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friest of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer. 

v 8I, ^AJ, 


80 NoSTtt STREET. 


Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 18T2, "by 

In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington. 









BODY 94 




PRIEST . 143 





WHEN our dear Saviour Jesus Christ 
was living on earth, He was accused of 
the worst crimes. He was accused by the 
high-priests and the doctors of the law, to 
whom it belonged to pronounce who was 
the Messiah. He was accused before an 
idolatrous judge, in presence of all the 
people. He was treated as a blasphemer, 
as one possessed by the devil, as a lover 
of wine, as a destroyer of the Temple, as 
a seducer of the people, as a rebel, a se 
ditious man, who gave to Himself the title 
of king, who forbade the payment of 
tribute to Caesar, and who wished to 


destroy the Jewish nation. If ever infa 
mous calumny was carried to excess, it 
was undoubtedly in regard to our divine 
Saviour Jesus Christ, "who knew not sin," 
who had never uttered a deceitful word, 
who "did all things well," and who "passed 
His life in doing good, and healing all 
kinds of infirmities." 

Now Jesus Christ continues to live in 
the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, the 
Pope, the bishops and priests. He has 
made a prediction to His Apostles and 
their successors, which has come true in 
all ages, and which will be verified to the 
end of the world. He said to them : "The 
servant is not greater than his lord ; if 
they have persecuted me, they will also 
persecute you." (John xv. 20.) This 
prediction of our Lord Jesus Christ has 
been especially verified in our own cen 
tury. See how the enemies of Jesus 


Christ have treated, and how they continue 
still to treat, our holy father Pius IX.; 
see how they massacred the Archbishop 
of Paris, and many of his clergy, in cold 
blood! The Pope! the Pope! The 
Priest I the Priest! This has ever been 
the cry of all the wicked, and what fan 
cies has it not conjured up? Some, when 
they only hear the word "Pope," or 
"Priest," turn up their jeyes in horror, 
and shrink back as if they had suddenly 
encountered an evil genius. Others, at 
the mere sound of the word "Pope," or 
"Priest," become as rabid as a dog 
stricken with hydrophobia when he sees 
water. They grind their teeth, they 
froth and foam at the mouth, they tremble 
with rage, and seem as if they would tear 
into pieces all the popes and priests that 
have ever lived from Peter to the present 


Others shake their heads with an air of 
majesty, as if they would say : "How can 
we get over the Pope over the hierarchy 
of the Catholic Church?" Like a divine 
stigma, the world s hatred is impressed on 
the brow of the Pope, of the bishops and 
priests of the Church. The spirit of the 
world the spirit of falsehood and of 
negation hates the Pope the Vicar of 
Christ ; it hates all our Lord s true min 
isters the Catholic bishops and priests 
with demoniacal hatred. Why? Be 
cause they are the palladium of truth, 
and of public and private morality ; the 
root and bond of charity and of faith. 

The spirit of the world hates the Pope, 
it hates the bishops and priests of the 
Catholic Church, because they love justice 
and hate iniquity. But it is for this very 
reason that they will remain forever ; for 
truth and justice being, in the end, always 


victorious, the Pope, together with the 
Catholic bishops and priests, will not cease 
to bless and to triumph. All the works 
of the earth have perished ; time has ob 
literated them. The hierarchy of the 
Catholic Church remains, because the 
Church remains, and it will endure until 
the Church passes from her earthly exile 
to her country in heaven. 
\ Human theories and systems have flitted 
across her path like birds of night, but 
have vanished ; numberless sects have, 
like so many waves, dashed themselves to 
froth against this rock, or, recoiling, have 
been lost in the vast ocean of forgetful- 
ness. Kingdoms and empires that once 
existed in inimitable worldly grandeur are 
no more ; dynasties have died out, and 
have been replaced by others. 

Thrones and sceptres and crowns have 
withstood the hierarchy of the Church ; 


but, immutable, like God, who laid its 
foundation, it is the firm, unshaken cen 
tre round which the weal and woe of na 
tions move weal if they adhere to it 
woe if they separate from it. If the 
world takes from the Pope, the bishops 
and priests of the Catholic Church, the 
cross of gold, they will bless the world 
with one of wood. If necessary, popes, 
bishops and priests can suffer and die for 
the welfare of the world, as Jesus suffered 
and died. The hierarchy of the Catholic 
Church is immortal. 

We cannot but smile when we hear men 
talk of the downfall of this hierarchy. 
What could hell and its agents do more 
than they have already done for its de 
struction ? They have employed tortures 
for the body, but they could not reach the 
spirit ; they have tried heresy, or the de 
nial of revealed truth, to such an extent 


that we cannot see room for any new 
heresy ; they have, by the hand of schism, 
torn whole countries from the unity of 
the Church ; but what she lost on one side 
of the globe, she gained tenfold on the 
other. All these have ignominiously 
failed to verify the prophecies of hell, 
that "the hierarchy of the Church shall 

Look, for instance, at the tremendous 
effort of the so-called glorious Reforma 
tion, together with its twin sister the 
unbelief of the nineteenth century. Whole 
legions of church reformers, together with 
armies of philosophers armed with nega 
tion, and a thousand and one systems of 
paganism, rushed on against the chair of 
Peter, and swore that the papacy would 
fall, and with it the whole hierarchy of the 
Church. Three hundred years are over, 
and the hierarchy of the Catholic Church 


is still alive, and, to all appearances, more 
vigorous than ever. The nations have 
proved that they can get along very well 
without reformers, but not without the 
Pope, the bishops and priests of the Cath 
olic Church. Men are foolish enough to 
dream of the destruction of the papacy. 
Napoleon tried the game, and, from the 
summit of his empire, walked into exile, 
whilst his victim, Pius VII., leaving his 
prison, entered Rome in triumph. A 
great statesman of France said, not long 
ago, that those who tried to swallow the 
papacy, and with it the whole hierarchy 
of the Church, always died of indigestion. 
Let the enemies of the Pope, and of the 
Catholic bishops and priests, beware : if 
they dash their heads against the rock, 
they must not be astonished to find them 

The whole hierarchy of the Catholic 


Church is a grand fact in history a fact 
so great that there would be no history 
without it a fact permanent, repeating 
itself perpetually, entering into the con 
cerns of all the nations on the face of the 
earth, appearing again and again on the 
records of time, and benefiting, perceived 
or unperceived, directly or indirectly, so 
cially, morally, and supernaturally, every 
individual who forms part of the great 
organism of human society. 

Around this hierarchy human society 
moves like a wheel around its axle ; on 
this hierarchy society depends for its 
support, its life, its energy, like the plan 
etary system on the sun. This assertion, 
my dear reader, I hope to make good by 
showing to you in this little work that the 
Pope, the bishops and priests are "the 
light of the world, the salt of the earth, 


the mediators between God and man, 
and the best fathers and friends of the 



THE great roots of all the evils that 
press upon society, and make man unhappy, 

Hence he who wishes to civilize the world, 
and thus assist in executing the plans of 
God s providence, must remove these two 
great roots of evil by imparting to the 
mind infallibly the light of truth, and by 
laying down for the will authoritatively 
the unchangeable principles of morality. 
If the hierarchy of the Catholic Church 
has accomplished in society this twofold 
task, then has it rendered itself worthy 
2 (17) 


of the praises of all men, and deserves to 
be called the greatest, the most astonish 
ing, the most divine fact in the history of 
the world then the hierarchy of the Cath 
olic Church is truly "the light of the 
world, and the salt of the earth." 

Look at the world before Christianity. 
Everywhere the grossest ignorance and 
immorality prevailed. The true God was 
hardly known, save in one single corner 
of the earth, that is to say, in Judea alone ; 
and even there, how very few loved Him ! 
As to the rest of the world, some wor 
shipped the sun, some the brutes, some 
the very stones, and others again even 
viler creatures still ; nay, many even wor 
shipped the very demons as gods. 

Everywhere there reigned the night of 
sin which blinds souls, and hides from 
them the sight of the miserable state in 
which they are living as enemies of God, 


and condemned to hell. The most de 
grading vices were extolled even as vir 
tues. The world cried for light. Men 
could no longer see their way. "Why are 
we here ? Who made us ? Whither are 
we going? Whence the evils in the 
world? Why have we a thirst for im 
mortality? Why does nothing on earth 
satisfy us? Why our yearning for per 
petual happiness ? " Such were the ques 
tions that resounded everywhere, in the 
schools of philosophy, in the forum, in 
the market-place, in the temple, at the 
fireside. No one could answer ; and yet 
the social, domestic and religious happi 
ness of the world was at stake on these 
questions then as it is now. What rem 
edy could be applied to heal such invet 
erate evils of the mind and the will? 
Pagan philosophers, poets and orators, had 
tried their best to elevate mankind ; but 


they had tried in vain. Then "the light 
shone into the darkness" ; and Jesus Christ 
was this light, by His divine doctrine and 
example. St. Peter and the other Apos 
tles and their successors the Roman 
Catholic bishops and priests became the 
bearers of this light. 

More than fifteen hundred years ago 
there hung in the Catacombs of Rome a 


lamp shaped in the form of a ship, at 
whose helm sat St. Peter, steering with 
one hand, and with the other giving his 
blessing. On one side of this miniature 
ship were engraved the words, "Peter 
dies not," and on the other the words of 
our dear Saviour : " I have prayed for 
thee." (Luke xxii. 32.) 

There could not be a more beautiful 
symbol of the papacy and the hierarchy 
of the Catholic Church. This hierarchy 
is a lamp which illumines all darkness, 

and furnishes us with the brilliant light of 
truth ; the Church is a ship which carries 
this light safely through the storms of 
ages to the ends of the earth, bringing 
with it blessings to the nations, and gath 
ering into its apostolic net, as it sails 
along, the perishing children of men. 
And at the helm sits the poor fisherman 
of Galilee, the Pope, together with his 
assistants the Catholic bishops and priests 
directing the course of the vessel, now 
to this, now to that distressed country, 
now to this, now to that sorrowing people, 
to bring them not gold, not silver, but 
what is infinitely more precious Faith ; 
and with faith, true civilization, based upon 
the unchangeable principles of supernat 
ural morality, true prosperity, true happi 
ness, and peace on earth and for eternity. 
One thousand eight hundred and forty- 
odd years ago, a poor, meanly-clad wan- 


derer went to the Capital of the world 
the wealthy, magnificent city of Rome. 
He passes its gates, and threads his way 
unobserved through its populous streets. 
Oil every side he beholds splendid pal 
aces raised at the expense of down-trodden 
nationalities ; he beholds stately temples 
dedicated to as many false gods as nations 
were congregated in Rome ; he beholds 
public baths and amphitheatres devoted to 
pleasure and to cruelty ; he beholds stat 
ues, monuments, and triumphal arches 
raised to the memory of blood-thirsty 

He passes warriors and senators, beg 
gars and cripples, effeminate and dissolute 
women, gladiators and slaves, merchants 
and statesmen, orators and philosophers, 
all classes, all ranks, all conditions of men 
of every language and color under the 
sun. Everywhere he sees a maddening 


race for pleasure, everywhere the impress 
of luxury, everywhere the full growth of 
crime, side by side with indescribable 
suffering, diabolical cruelty and barbarity. 
And this poor, meanly-clad wanderer, 
was St. Peter. Oh ! how the noble heart 
of the poor fisherman of Galilee must 
have bled when he observed the empire 
of Satan so supreme when he witnessed 
the shocking licentiousness of the temple 
and the homestead, when he saw the fear 
ful degradation of woman groaning under 
the load of her own infamy, when he saw 
the heart-rending inhumanity which slew 
the innocent babes, and threw them into 
the Tiber, when he saw how prisoners of 
war, slaves, soldiers, were trained for 
bloody fights, and entered the arena of the 
amphitheatre and strove whole days to 
strangle one another, for the special en 
tertainment of the Roman people. 


Here, then, was to be the scene of his 
labors : into this foul mass, into this car 
cass of a rotten society, St. Peter was 
come to infuse a new life, to lay the 
foundation of a new Rome, a Rome 
which, instead of paganism and deprav 
ity, would convey the truth and the 
blessing of Christian virtues to the far 
thermost ends of the earth. When Peter, 
the first Pope, came to Rome, that city 
was the condensation of all the idolatry, all 
the oppression, all the injustice, all the 
immoralities, of the world ; for the world 
was centred in Rome. Hence the work 
of Peter was the type of what his suc 
cessors and their fellow-laborers in the 
vineyard of the Lord the Catholic 
bishops and priests would do for the 
world. Peter laid his hand to the plough 
and never once looked back. For twenty- 
five years he struggled, and succeeded in 


establishing, in the very midst of this 
centre of every excess of which the hu 
man mind and the human heart could be 
guilty, a congregation of Christians, to 
whom St. Paul could address an epistle, 
and in it state that the far fame of their 
faith had already spread over the whole 
world. "I give thanks to my God 
through Jesus Christ for you all, because 
your faith is spoken of in the whole 
world." (Rom. i. 8, xvi. 19.) 

The foundation of a new world had 
been laid by the first Pope, and cemented 
by his own blood. Since then, Pope has 
succeeded Pope in spite of persecution 
and death, in spite of the opposition of 
pagan philosophy and of pagan intrigue, 
of pagan hate and of pagan enmity. It 
was through the Popes and their fellow- 
laborers the Catholic priests that 
Christianity, till at the end of the third 


century, covered the whole then known 
world. The Capitoline temple, and with 
it the many shrines of idolatry, the 
golden house of Nero, and with it Roman 
excess and Roman cruelty, the throne of 
the Caesars, and with it Roman oppression 
and Roman injustice, had all passed away. 
And there stood the Rome of the Fathers 
of the Church, the Rome which was yet 
to do such wonders in the world. Two 
hundred and fifty-eight Popes have, till 
now, succeeded each other in the See of 
Peter. Of these, seventy-seven are hon 
ored by the Church as saints, and twenty- 
seven have, in imitation of Peter, sealed 
their work with their blood. 

" And the light shone into the dark 
ness." Pope after Pope, the principal 
bearers of the light of the true faith, sent 
forth to the nations bishops and mission 
aries, full of the spirit of self-sacrifice, 


solely devoted to their great task ; and 
year after year new tribes, new nations, 
were gained for Christ by the constant 
labors and hardships of the priests of 
the Catholic Church. Thus St. Austin 
brought the light of faith to England, 
St. Patrick to Ireland, St. Boniface to 
Germany. The Frieslanders, the Mora 
vians, the Prussians, the Swedes, the 
Picts, the Scots, the Franks, and hun 
dreds of others, were brought to the 
bosom of the Church through the preach 
ing and labors of the bishops and priests 
of the Eoman Catholic Church. Driven 
from one country, their influence was 
made to act on another. When Solisman, 
the Sultan, threatened to wipe out Chris 
tianity from Europe, Roman Catholic 
bishops and priests went to the East 
Indies, to China, and Japan. When 
Europe failed in its fidelity, and listened 


to the siren voices of heresy, Catholic 
bishops and priests were sent to the 
newly-discovered continent of America, 
and to the West Indies. 

Gregory XVI. devised plans for mis 
sions to the interior of Africa, missions 
which are working wonders yet. This 
great work of enlightening the world the 
Popes accomplished more particularly by 
those astonishing organizations called Re 
ligious Orders, all of which depend for 
their existence on the approbation of the 
Holy See. It was the great Pope Greg 
ory I., who, a monk himself, gave, by his 
example, his dignity, his decrees, and in 
stitutions, firmness and stability to the 
monastic life of the West. True wisdom 
rests for its support on the principles of 
Faith. Hence the first aim of these re 
ligious orders was to spread the light of 
faith. With what success they did this, 

we all know. But there was another 
thing they did : they civilized the coun 
tries to which the Papacy had sent them. 
In the pagan world, education was an 
edifice built up on the principles of slavery. 
The motto was, " Odi profanum vulgus ct 
arceo." Education was the privilege of 
the aristocracy. The great mass of peo 
ple was studiously kept in ignorance of 
the treasures of the mind. This state of 
things was done away with by the Papacy 
when it established the monastic institu 
tions of the West. The whole of Europe 
was soon covered with schools, not only 
for the wealthy, but for the poorest even 
of the poor. Yes, education was system 
atized, and an emulation was created for 
learning, such as the world had never 
seen before. Italy, Germany, France, 
England, and Spain, had theii* univer 
sities ; but side by side with these, their 


colleges, gymnasiums, parish and village 
schools, as numerous as the churches and 
monasteries, which the efforts of the Holy 
See had scattered with lavish hand over the 
length and breadth of the land. 

And where was the source of all this 
light? I answer, at Rome. For when 
the barbarian hordes poured down upon 
Europe from the Caspian Mountains, it 
was the Popes who saved civilization. 
They collected, in the Vatican, the manu 
scripts of the ancient authors, gathered 
from all parts of the earth at enormous 
expense. The barbarians, who destroyed 
everything by fire and sword, had already 
advanced as far as Rome. Attila, who 
called himself the scourge of God, stood 
before its walls ; there was no emperor, 
no pretorian guard, no legions present to 
save the ancient Capital of the world. 
But there was a Pope Leo I. And Leo 

went forth, and by entreaties, and threats 
of God s displeasure, induced the dreaded 
king of the Huns to retire. Scarcely had 
Attila retired, before Genseric, king of 
the Vandals, made his appearance, invited 
by Eudoxia, the empress, to the plunder 
of Rome. Leo met him, and obtained 
from him the lives and the honor of the 
Romans, and the sparing of the public 
monuments which adorned the city in such 
numbers. Thus Leo the Great saved 
Europe from barbarism. To the name 
of Leo, I might add those of Gregory I., 
Sylvester II., Gregory XIII., Benedict 
XIV., Julius III., Paul III., Leo X., 
Clement VIII., John XX., and a host of 
others, who must be looked upon as the 
preservers of science and the arts, even 
amid the very fearful torrent of barbarism 
that was spreading itself, like an inunda 
tion, over the whole of Europe. The 


principle of the hierarchy of the Church 
has ever been this : " By the knowledge of 
Divine things, and the guidance of an in 
fallible teacher, the human mind must 
gain certainty in regard to the sublimest 
problems, the great questions of life : by 
them the origin, the end, the norm and 
limit of man s activity must be made 
known, for then alone can he venture 
fearlessly upon the sphere of human 
efforts, and human developments, and hu 
man science." And, truly, never has sci 
ence gained the ascendancy outside of the 
Church that it has always held in the 
Church. And what I say of science I 
also say of the arts. I say it of archi 
tecture, of sculpture, and of painting. I 
need only point to the Basilica of Peter, 
to the museums and libraries of Eome. 
It is to Rome the youthful artist always 
turns his steps, in order to drink in, at 

the monuments of art and of science, the 
genius and inspiration he seeks for in 
vain in his own country. He feels, only 
too keenly, that railroads and telegraphs, 
steamships and power-looms, banking- 
houses and stock companies, though good 
and useful institutions, are not the 
mothers of genius, nor the schools of 
inspiration ; and therefore he leaves his 
country, and goes to Rome, and there 
feasts on the fruits gathered by the hands 
of St. Peter s successors, and then returns 
home with a name which will live for 
ages in the memory of those who have 
learned to appreciate the true and the 

It is thus that the Popes, and bishops 
and priests have accomplished the first 
great work of enlightening society. They 
have shed the light of Faith over the East 
and the West, over the North and the 


South, and with the faith they have estab 
lished the principles of true science on 
their natural basis. They have imparted 
education to the masses, wherever they 
were left free to adopt their own, and un 
trammelled by civil interference. They 
have fostered and protected, yes, gathered 
around themselves the arts and the sci 
ences, and to-day, if all the libraries, and 
all the museums, and all the galleries of 
art in the world were destroyed. Rome 
alone would possess quite enough to sup 
ply the want, as it did in former ages, 
when others supplied themselves by plun 
dering Rome. 

The depravity of man shows itself in 
the constant endeavor to shake off the re 
straint placed by law and duty upon his 
will; and to this we must ascribe the 
licentiousness which has at all times af 
flicted society. Passion acknowledges no 

law, and spares neither rights nor conven 
tions ; where it has the power, it exercises 
it to the advantage of self, and to the det 
riment of social order. The Church is by 
its very constitution Catholic, and hence 
looks upon all men as brothers of the same 
family. She acknowledges not the nat 
ural right of one man over another, and 
hence her Catholicity lays a heavy restraint 
upon all the efforts of self-love, and curbs 
with a mighty hand the temerity of those 
who would destroy the harmony of life 
implied in the idea of Catholicity. 

One of the first principles of all social 
happiness is, that before the law of nature, 
and before the face of God, all men are 
equal. This principle is based on the 
unity of the human race, the origin of all 
men from one common father. If we study 
the History of Paganism, we find that all 
heathen nations overturned this great prin- 


ciple, since we find among all heathen na 
tions the evil of Slavery. Prior to the 
coming of Christ, the great majority of 
men were looked upon as a higher devel 
opment of the animal, as animated instru 
ments which might be bought and sold, 
given away and pawned ; which might be 
tormented, maltreated, or murdered ; as 
beings, in a word, for whom the idea of 
right, duty, pity, mercy, and law had no 
existence. Who can read, without a feel 
ing of intense horror, the accounts left 
us of the treatment of their slaves by the 
Romans? There was no law that could 
restrain in the least the wantonness, the 
cruelty, the licentious excess of the mas 
ter, who, as master, possessed the absolute 
right to do with his slaves whatsoever he 
pleased. To remove this stain of slavery 
has ever been the aim of the Popes, bishops 
and priests. "Since the Saviour and Cre- 


ator of the world," Says Pope Gregory I., 
in his celebrated decree, "wished to be 
come man, in order, by grace and liberty, 
to break the chains of our slavery, it is 
right and good to bestow again upon man, 
whom nature has permitted to be born 
free, but whom the law of nations has 
brought under the yoke of slavery, the 
blessing of their original liberty." Through 
all the middle ages called by Protestants 
the dark ages of the world the echo of 
these words of Gregory I. is heard, and 
in the 13th century Pope Pius II. could 
say, "Thanks to God, and the Apostolic 
See, the yoke of slavery does no longer 
disgrace any European nation." Since 
then slavery was again introduced into 
Africa, and the newly-discovered regions 
of America, and again the Popes, bishops 
and priests raised their voices in the in 
terests of liberty, from Pius II. to Pius 


VII., who, even at the time Napoleon had 
robbed him of his liberty, and held him 
captive in a foreign land, became the de 
fender of the negro, to Gregory XVI. , who, 
on the third of November, 1839, insisted 
in a special Bull on the abolition of the 
slave trade, and who spoke in a strain as 
if he had lived and sat side by side with 
Gregory I., thirteen hundred years before. 
But here let us observe, that not only the 
vindication of liberty for all, not only the 
abolition of slavery, but the very mode of 
action followed in this matter by the 
Popes, bishops and priests, has gained for 
themselves immortal honor, and the es 
teem of all good men. When the Church 
abolished slavery in any country where it 
existed, the Popes, bishops and priests 
did not compel masters, by harshness or 
threats, to manumit their slaves ; they did 
not bring into action the base intrigues, 


the low chicanery, the canting hypocrisy 
of modern statesmen ; they did not raise 
armies, and send them into the lands of 
their masters to burn and to pillage, to lay 
waste and to destroy ; they did not slaugh 
ter, by their schemes, over a million of 
free men and another million of slaves ; 
they did not make widows and orphans 
without numbers ; they did not impov 
erish the land, and lay upon their subjects 
burdens which would crush them into 
very dust. Nothing of all this. That is 
not the way in which the Church abolished 
slavery. The Popes sent bishops and 
priests into those countries where slavery 
existed, to enlighten the minds of the 
masters, and convince them that slaves 
were men, and consequently had souls, 
like other people, too. The Popes, bish 
ops and priests infused into the hearts of 
masters a deep love for Jesus Christ, and 


consequently a deep love for souls. The 
Popes, bishops and priests taught masters 
to look upon their slaves as created by the 
same God, redeemed by the same Jesus 
Christ, destined for the same glory. The 
consequence was, that the relations of 
slave and master became the relations 
of brother to brother ; the master began 
to love his slave, and to ameliorate his 
condition, till, at last, forced by his own 
acknowledged principles, he granted to 
him his liberty. Thus it was that slavery 
was abolished by the preaching of the 
Popes, bishops and priests. The great 
barrier to all the healthy, permanent, and 
free development of nations was thus bro 
ken down ; the blessings, the privileges of 
society, were made equally attainable by 
the masses, and ceased to be the special 
monopoly of a few, who, for the most 


part, had nothing to recommend them ex 
cept their wealth. 

But even though the Popes have abol 
ished slavery from Christian society, the 
female portion of our race would always 
have sunk back into a new slavery, had 
not the Popes entered the breach for the 
protection of the Unity, the sanctity, the 
Indissolubility of matrimony. In the midst 
of the barbarous ages, during which the 
conqueror and warrior swayed the scep 
tre of empire, and kings and petty tyrants 
acknowledged no other right but that of 
force, it was the privilege of the Popes, 
and their honor, to oppose themselves and 
their authority like a wall of brass to the 
sensuality and the passions of the mighty 
ones of the earth , and to stand forth as the 
protectors of innocence and outraged vir 
tue, as the champions of the rights of 
woman, against the wanton excesses of 


tyrannical husbands, by enforcing, in their 
full seventy, the laws of Christian mar 
riage. If Christian Europe is not covered 
with harems, if polygamy has never gained 
a foothold in Europe, if, with the indis- 
solubility and sanctity of matrimony, the 
palladium of European civilization has 
been saved from destruction, it is all owing 
to the Popes, the bishops and priests. "If 
the Popes " says the Protestant Von Miil- 
ler " if the Popes could hold up no other 
merit than that which they gained by pro 
tecting monogamy against the brutal lusts 
of those in power, notwithstanding bribes, 
threats, and persecutions, that alone would 
render them immortal for all future ages." 
And how had they to battle till they had 
gained this merit? What sufferings had 
they to endure, what trials to undergo? 
When King Lothair, in the 9th century, 
repudiated his lawful wife in order to live 


with a concubine, Pope Nicholas I. at once 
took upon himself the defence of the 
rights and of the honor of the unhappy wife. 
All the arts of an intriguing policy were 
plied, but Nicholas remained unshaken ; 
threats were used, but Nicholas remained 
firm. At last the king s brother, Louis 
II., appears with an army before the walls 
of Rome, in order to compel the Pope to 
yield. It is useless Nicholas swerves not 
from the line of duty. Rome is besieged ; 
the priests and people are maltreated and 
plundered ; sanctuaries are desecrated ; the 
cross is torn clown and trampled under 
foot, and, in the midst of these scenes of 
blood and sacrilege, Nicholas flies to the 
Church of St. Peter ; there he is besieged 
by the army of the Emperor for two clays 
and two nights : left without food or 
drink, he is willing to die of starvation on 
the tomb of St. Peter, rather than yield 


to a brutal tyrant, and sacrifice the sanctity 
of Christian marriage, the law of life of 
Christian society. And the perseverance 
of Nicholas I. was crowned with victory. 
He had to contend against a licentious 
king, who was tired of restraint ; against 
an emperor, who with an army at his 
heels, came to enforce his brother s unjust 
demands ; against two councils of venal 
bishops, the one at Metz, the other at 
Aix-la-Chapelle, who had sanctioned the 
scandals of the adulterous monarch. Yet, 
with all this opposition, and the suffering 
it cost him, the Pope succeeded in pro 
curing the acknowledgment of the rights 
of an injured woman. And during suc 
ceeding ages we find Gregory V. carrying 
on a similar combat against King Eobert, 
and Urban II. against King Philip of 
France. In the 13th century, Philip 
.Augustus, mightier than his predecessors, 


set to work all the levers of power, in or 
der to move the Pope to divorce him from 
his wife Ingelburgis. Hear the noble 
answer of the great Innocent III. : 

"Since, by the grace of God, we have 
the firm and unshaken will never to sep 
arate ourselves from Justice and Truth, 
neither moved by petitions, nor bribed by 
presents, neither induced by love, nor in 
timidated by hate, we will continue to go 
on in the royal path, turning neither to 
the right nor to the left; and we judge 
without any respect to persons, since God 
Himself does not respect persons." 

After the death of his first wife, Isa 
bella, Philip Augustus wished to gain the 
favor of Denmark by marrying Ingelbur 
gis. The union had hardly been solem 
nized, when he wished to be divorced from 
her. A council of venal bishops assem 
bled at Compiegne, and annulled his lawful 


marriage. The queen, poor woman, was 
summoned before her Judges, and the 
sentence was read and translated to her. 
She could not speak the language of 
France, so her only cry was " Rome ! " 
And Rome heard her cry of distress, and 
carne to her rescue. Innocent III. needed 
the alliance of France, in the troubles in 
which he was engaged with Germany ; 
Innocent III. needed the assistance of 
France, for the Crusade ; yet Innocent 
III. sent Peter of Capua as Legate to 
France ; a Council is convoked by the 
Legate of the Pope ; Philip refuses to ap 
pear, in spite of the summons, and the 
whole of the kingdom of Philip is placed 
under interdict. Philip s rage knows no 
bounds : bishops are banished, his lawful 
wife is imprisoned, and the king vents his 
rage on the clergy of France. The barons 
at last appeal against Philip to the sword. 


The king complains to the Pope of the 
harshness of the Legate, and when Inno 
cent only confirms the sentence of the 
Legate, the king exclaims, "Happy Sal- 
adin ; he had no Pope ! " Yet the king 
was forced to obey. When he asked the 
barons assembled in council, "What must 
I do ? " their answer was : " Obey the 
Pope ; put away Agnes and restore Ingel- 
burgis." And, thanks to the severity of 
Innocent III., Philip repudiated the con 
cubine, and restored Ingelburgis to her 
rights, as wife and queen. Hear what the 
Protestant Hurter says, in his life of In 
nocent : "If Christianity has not been 
thrown aside as a worthless creed, into 
some isolated corner of the world ; if it 
has not, like the sects of India, been re 
duced to a mere theory ; if its European 
vitality has outlived the voluptuous effem 
inacy of the East, it is due to the watch- 


fill severity of the Eoman Pontiffs ; to their 
increasing care to maintain the principles 
of authority in the Church." 

As often as we look to England, that 
land of perfidy and deceit, we are re 
minded of the words of Innocent III. to 
Philip Augustus. We see Clement using 
them as his principles in his conduct to 
wards the royal brute Henry VIII. Cath 
erine of Arragon,the lawful wife of Henry, 
had been repudiated by her disgraceful 
husband, and it was again to Rome she 
appealed for protection. Clement remon 
strates with Henry. The monarch calls 
the Pope hard names. Clement repeats, 
"Thou shalt not commit adultery ! " Henry 
threatens to tear England from the Church ; 
he does it ; still Clement insists, " Thou 
shalt not commit adultery!" Fisher and 
More go to bleed out their life at Tyburn ; 
still the Pope repeats, "Thou shalt not 


commit adultery ! " The firmness of the 
Pope cost England s loss to the Church. 
It cost the Pope bitter tears, and he 
prayed to Heaven not to visit on the 
people of England the crimes of the des 
pot ; he prayed for the conversion of the 
nation ; but sacrifice the sanctity, the 
indissolubility of matrimony, that he could 
never do abandon helpless woman to the 
brutality of men who were tired of the 
restraints of morality no, that the Pope 
could never permit. If the Court, if the 
palace of the domestic hearth refused a 
shelter, Rome was always open, a refuge 
to injured and down-trodden innocence. 

"One must obey God more than man." 
This has ever been the language of the 
Popes, of the bishops and priests, when 
ever there was question of defending the 
laws of God against the powers of the 
earth ; and in thus defending the laws of 


God, they protected against outrage the 
personal dignity, the moral liberty and 
the intellectual freedom of man. "Be 
cause there was a Pope," says a Protestant 
historian, " there could not any longer be 
a Tiberius in Europe, and the direction 
of the religious and spiritual welfare of 
man was withdrawn from the hands of 
royalty." Because there were Popes, the 
will of Caesar could not any longer be 
substituted for law ; for the Popes made 
the Gospel the law-book of the nations. 
Now the Gospel teaches that all power 
comes from God, that from God the sov 
ereign derives his power, to rule in justice 
and equity for the welfare of his subjects, 
and that the subjects are bound to obey 
their rules for conscience sake. Hence, 
adopting the great principle of action, 
the Popes have at all times condemned the 
spirit of rebellion, and have anathematized 


those principles, those factions, those or 
ganizations whose aim is, and has always 
been, to overturn authority and to substi 
tute anarchy in the place of the harmony 
of legitimate government. In conformity 
with this rule of action the Popes Clement 
XII., Benedict XIV., Pius VII., Leo 
XII., Gregory XVI., and Pius IX., have 
condemned secret societies, whose object 
is the overthrow of civil and religious 
government. But at the same time that 
the Popes required from subjects obedi 
ence to their lawful governments, they 
have ever defended subjects against the 
abuse of power, or against the tyranny of 
unjust rulers. In pagan times it had the 
appearance as if the people existed for the 
sovereign, and not the sovereign for the 
people ; but in the days and in the coun 
tries where the spiritual supremacy of the 
Pope was acknowledged by rulers, the 


pagan idea had necessarily to disappear, 
for the Popes gave the princes to under 
stand that they existed for the people, 
and not the people for them. 

Viewed in this light, what a magnificent 
spectacle does the Catholic Church present 
to our admiration, and how does the hon 
est heart of down-trodden nationality yearn 
that these happy days may once more re 
turn ! Taken mostly from the middle 
classes, sometimes even from the most 
humble ranks of society, the Popes as 
cended the chair of Peter. And these 
men, who had been the sons of artisans 
and mechanics, but who had, by their vir 
tue and talent, gained a merit which 
neither wealth nor a noble pedigree could 
bestow, became the arbiters between na 
tion and nation, between prince and peo 
ple, always prepared to weld together the 
chain of broken friendship, and to protect, 


by their power and authority, the rights 
of subjects oppressed by tyrannical rulers. 
It was indeed a blessing for Europe thnt 
Nicholas I. could curb, with an iron hand, 
the tyranny of kings and nobles. It was 
indeed a blessing, not for Europe alone, 
but for the world, that there lived a ge 
nius on earth in the person of Gregory 
VII. , who knew how to protect the Saxons 
against the wanton lawlessness of Henry, 
King of Germany, a monster who ground 
his subjects remorsely in the dust, and re 
spected neither the sanctity of virginity 
nor the sacredness of marriage ; neither 
the rights of the Church, nor those of the 
State ; whose very existence seemed to have 
no other aim but that of the leech, to draw 
out the blood from the hearts of his un 
happy subjects. What would have be 
come of Germany had there not been a 
power superior to that of this godless 


prince ? It was Gregory VII. who hurled 
him from his throne, and restored to the 
noble Saxons and Thuringians their inde 
pendence, not by the power of the sword, 
but by the scathing power of his anathema. 
The same I may say of Boniface VIII. and 
of Innocent III. There was, happily for 
Europe, a Court of Appeal, to which even 
monarchs were forced to bow ; and that 
court was Rome. It was to Borne that 
the nations appealed, when their inde 
pendence was at stake or their rights were 
trampled upon. And Rome was never 
deaf to the cry of distress, whether it 
came from Germany or from France, from 
England or from Poland, from Spain or 
from the shores of the Bosphorus. 

The independence of religion from the 
control of the State a boon of which our 
constitution boasts was a thing for which 
the Popes, together with the bishops and 

priests, had fought and bled since the 
days of Constantino, and for which they 
gained the victory, centuries before Amer 
ica was discovered. The abolition of slav 
ery was the constant aim of the Popes 
an aim which it accomplished without dis 
turbing the harmony of nations, without 
drenching in blood the countries where 
slavery existed ; whereas, the powers suc 
ceeded in the abolition of slavery only at 
the cost of torrents of blood and millions 
of treasure, pressed out by merciless wars 
and political injustice. The corner-stone 
of society is Christian marriage ; and at 
that corner-stone have the Popes, bishops 
and priests stood guard for eighteen cen 
turies, by insisting that Christian marriage 
is one, holy, and indissoluble. Woman, 
weak and unprotected, has, as the history 
of the Church abundantly proves, found 
at Home that guaranty which was refused 


her by him who had sworn at the altar of 
God to love her, and to cherish her till 
death. Whereas, in the nations whom 
the Keformation of the 16th century tore 
from the bosom of the Church, the sacred 
laws of matrimony are trampled in the 
dust ; whereas, the statistics of these na 
tions hold up to the world the sad spec 
tacle of divorces as numerous as marriages, 
of separations of husband from wife, and 
wife from husband, for the most trivial 
causes, thus granting to lust the widest 
margin of license, and legalizing concubi 
nage and adultery; whereas, the 19th 
century records in its annals the existence 
of a community of licentious polygamists 
within the borders of one of the most civ 
ilized countries of the earth ; we must yet 
see the decree emanating from Rome that 
would permit even a beggar to repudiate 
his lawful wife, in order to give his affec- 

tions to an adulteress . And when the liberty 
of a nation was on the verge of destruc 
tion, and when emperors, and kings, and 
barons rode rough-shod over the rights, 
natural and vested, of their subjects, for 
getting the sacred trust confided to them, 
became tyrants, when neither prosperity 
nor undivided liberty were secure from 
that rapacious grasp ; when even the rights 
of conscience were set aside with impunity ; 
it was the Popes of Eome who buckled on 
the armor of Justice, and humbled the 
pride of princes even if, as a conse 
quence, they had to say, with a Gregory 
VII., "Dilexi Justitiam et odivi iniquita- 
tem ; ideo morior in exilio." 

Thus the Popes, the bishops and the 
priests are the light of the world, the or 
gan of the Holy Ghost. They announce 
the most beautiful, the most useful truths ; 
they speak to encourage the good, to ex- 


hort the weak, and to convert the sinner. 
It is not in their own name that they 
speak ; no, beloved brethren, it is in the 
name of God. They open the Book of 
books. They trace out for every one his 
individual duties ; to the monarchs as 
well as to their subjects, to the learned 
and the ignorant, to the rich and to the 
poor, to the just and to the sinner. To 
all they offer instruction, counsel, and 
hope. Sometimes they inveigh against 
crime, sometimes they encourage virtue; 
now they relate the sweet consolations of 
the just, and again they describe the fearful 
state of the impenitent sinner. There is 
not a sound maxim, nor a political truth, 
whose germ is not found in the Word of 
God. Now it is the Popes, the bishops 
and the priests whom God has appointed 
to dispense these treasures. Yes, show 
me, if you can, a single country blessed 


by faith and civilization, that has not 
been watered by the tears and by the 
preaching, by the prayers and by the 
blood, of those who are styled the light 
of the world the Popes, the bishops and 


IF it is the Popes, the bishops and 
priests who have drawn forth the civil 
ized nations of the world from barbarism, 
it is also the Popes, the bishops and 
priests who keep them from falling back 
into their former degradation. It is for 
this reason that our Divine Saviour calls 
them also "the salt of the earth." Al 
mighty God, Who incessantly watches 
over the welfare of His Church, has, in 
every century, provided chosen vessels 
holy Popes, bishops and priests to de 
fend and uphold her holy doctrine. 
Against Arianism, God raised up an 
Athanasius and a Hilary of Poictiers ; to 


oppose the Nestorians, God sent St. 
Cyril. He sent St. Augustine to beat 
down the Pelagians ; St. John Damas 
cene, to fight the Iconoclasts. When the 
world became Christian, and Catholics 
grew rich, and forgot the poverty of our 
Lord Jesus Christ, the Franciscan monks 
were called to teach the love of Christian 
poverty to voluptuous Catholics. 

Heresy and ignorance then followed, 
and the Dominican Fathers were raised 
up, by God, to combat these two great 
evils. In the 16th century, Protestant 
ism came up. Heresy arose in all its 
strength : Luther was its ringleader and 
its spokesman ; sensual passion and dis 
obedience were personified in him. God 
raised up the Jesuit Fathers to oppose 
Protestantism, by self-denial, by an es 
pecial vow to the Holy See, and by their 
sound teachings of the Catholic religion. 


Finally, in the 18th century, in 
fidelity and impiety, the last conse 
quences of Protestantism, personified in 
Voltaire and his associates, boldly raised 
their heads. Infidelity naturally united 
with Jansenism to undermine the edifice 
of the Church. Rigorism took hold of 
confessors, and armed them with iron 
sternness against weak and shuddering 
sinners. The consequence was, that ser 
vile fear took the place of the charity of 
God; that the sacraments, the fountains 
of life, were abandoned, or turned into 
derision ; that the Blessed Eucharist, the 
lifespriug of Catholic piety, became an 
object of dread, and that the spirit of 
Christianity seemed to pass away. But 
the eye of an Omniscient Providence was 
watching over it. In order to confound 
impiety, to fight against Jansenism, to 
disarm confessors of their overstrained 


rigidity, to awaken faith, to kindle in the 
hearts of the faithful love for the Blessed 
Sacrament, God gave to his Church a man 
after His own heart, Alphonsus de 
Liguori. Infidelity had permeated society 
from the nobility to the lower classes, 
and the sons of St. Alphonsus, the Re- 
demptorist Fathers, are preaching to 
the poor the eternal truths which they 
may have lost sight of by indifferentism 
and infidelity. 

Truly, if the Church is the Spouse of 
Jesus Christ, the Popes, bishops and 
priests are her guardians. If the Church 
is an army ranged in battle, the Popes, 
the bishops and priests are her gener 
als. If the Church is a vessel steering 
across the storms of persecutions, the 
Popes, the bishops and priests are 
her pilots. If the Church is the Mystic 
Body of Christ, and if the faithful are its 


members, the Popes, the bishops and 
priests are the principal members of this 
Body ; by their eyes, Jesus Christ watches 
over His flock ; by their feet, He carries 
to every nation the Gospel of peace; 
by their hearts, He diffuses everywhere 
the life of that divine charity without 
which all is dead. If the Church is the 
people of acquisition, bought at a great 
price, the Popes, the bishops and priests 
are the leaders, the teachers, the princes 
of that chosen generation. If the Church 
is that sacred edifice built up by the 
Divine Wisdom Itself for the children 
of God, the Popes, the bishops and 
priests are the administrators of this pal 
ace ; they are the columns of the Church 
upon which the whole world rests. God 
the Father has created the world without 
the Popes, the bishops and priests, 
but it is only through them that He saves 


it. God the Son redeemed the world 
without the Popes, the bishops and 
priests, but it is only by them that He 
applies His Blood to the souls of men, 
and secures the fruits of His copious Ke- 
demption. And you can hardly name a 
single blessing of the Holy Ghost, with 
out beholding by the side of that bless 
ing the priest as the instrument through 
which that Divine Spirit communicates 
His blessing. Yes, if St. Bernard is 
right in saying that all comes to us 
through Mary, we are also right in say 
ing that all comes to the people through 
the Popes, the bishops and priests : 
yes, all happiness, every grace, every 
heavenly gift. 

All the other gifts of God would avail 
us nothing without the Popes, the bish 
ops and priests. What would be the 
use of a house full of gold, if there 



were no one to open the door for you? 
Now the Popes, the bishops and priests 
have the key of all the treasures of 
heaven ; it is they who open the door. 
They are the stewards of the Lord, the 
administrators of His goods. Without 
them, the Passion of our Lord would 
profit us nothing. Look at the poor 
heathen of what benefit is our Lord s 
death to them ? Alas ! they can have no 
share in the Redemption, so long as they 
have no priests to apply His blood to 
their souls. 

No one understands this better than 
the devil, and his associates in this world. 
When they wish to destroy religion, they 
begin by attacking the Popes, the bish 
ops and priests ; for where there is no 
priest there is no sacrifice, and where 
there is no sacrifice there is no religion. 
What should we do in the Church ? the 


people would say ; there is no Mass now, 
our Lord is no longer there ; we may as 
well pray at home. 

Oh, how sad would be the state of so 
ciety were the Popes, the bishops and 
priests to be banished from the earth ! 
The bonds that unite the husband and 
wife, the child and the parent, the friend 
and the friend, would be broken. Peace 
and justice would flee from the earth. 
Robbery, murder, hatred, lust, and all 
the other crimes condemned by the Gos 
pel, would prevail. Faith would no 
longer elevate the souls of men to heaven. 
Hope, the sweet consoler of the afflicted, 
of the widow and the orphan, would flee 
away, and in her stead would reign black 
despair, terror, and suicide. Where 
would we find the sweet virtue of charity, 
if the Popes, the bishops and priests 
were to disappear forever ? Where would 


we find that charity which consoles the 
poor and forsaken, which lovingly dries 
the tears of the widow and the orphan ; 
that charity which soothes the sick man 
in his sufferings, and binds up the wounds 
of the bleeding defender of his country ? 
Where would we find that charity which 
casts a spark of divine fire into the hearts 
of so many religious, bidding them aban 
don home, friends, and everything that 
is near and dear to them in this world, to 
go among strangers, among savage tribes, 
and gain there, in return for their her 
oism, nothing but outrage, suffering and 
death? Where, I ask, would we find 
this charity, if the Popes, the bishops 
and priests were to disappear forever? 
Leave a parish for many years without 
a priest, and the people thereof will be 
come the blind victims of error, of su 
perstition, and of all kinds of vices. 


Show ine an age, a country, a nation 
without priests, and I will show you an 
age, a country, a nation without morals, 
without virtue. Yes, if "Religion and 
Science, Liberty and Justice, Principle 
and Eight," are not empty sounds if 
they have a meaning, they owe their en 
ergetic existence in the world to the 
" salt of the earth" to the Popes, bishops 
and priests. 



EVERY priest can say, in some measure, 
with Jesus Christ who sent him: "All 
power is given to me in heaven and on 
earth." The influence of this power is 
felt in heaven, in giving the elect ; it is 
felt in hell, in snatching from it victims ; 
it is felt in purgatory, in consoling effica 
ciously the Church Suffering. The in 
fluence of the priest s power is felt all over 
the world in sustaining the Church Militant. 
The great and the little, kings and their 
subjects, the learned and the ignorant, all 
expect from the priest not only the light 
of the true faith, but also pardon of their 


sins the grace of God. Indeed, the power 
of the priest is so great, that it can grant 
all these blessings in abundance. His 
power surpasses that of any created being, 
either in heaven or on earth. An earthly 
judge has great power, but, with all his 
power, he can only declare one innocent 
who has been falsely accused ; but the 
priest has power to restore to innocence 
even those that are guilty. 

The kings of the earth are powerful, 
yet their power extends only over a few 
countries, while the power of the priest 
extends over the whole earth. His power 
reaches to the highest heavens it pen 
etrates even to the very gates of hell. The 
treasures of kings are silver and gold 
perishable metals but the treasures of the 
priest are the imperishable merits and 
graces of our Lord Jesus Christ. Kings 
have power over only the bodies of men, but 


the priest has power over their souls. 
Kings have power over only their subjects, 
but kings and emperors themselves are 
subject to the priest. Kings have power 
to open and to close the prison-gates of 
earth, but the priest has power to open 
and to close the gates of heaven and of 

Yes, beloved brethren, this is no exag 
geration. Listen to the words of our Lord 
Jesus Christ words which he addressed to 
his Apostles, and their successors in the 
priesthood : " I will give you the keys 
of the kingdom of heaven. "Whatsoever 
you shall bind on earth, shall be bound 
also in heaven, and whatsoever you shall 
loose upon earth, shall be loosed also in 

The priest is greater than the patriarchs, 
greater, more exalted, than the prophets. 
A widow of Sarepta fed the prophet 


Elias for some time. In reward for her 
charity, the prophet obtained for her the 
miracle that her pot of meal wasted not, 
and that her cruise of oil was not dimin 
ished, and thus sustained that family in 
a miraculous manner. The Catholic priest 
does more : he feeds not merely one fam 
ily, but the entire human race ; he gives 
not mere material bread, but the living bread 
from heaven the body and blood of Jesus 
Christ ; he strengthens the souls of men 
with the oil of grace, which he administers 
to them in the Holy Sacraments. 

Elias raised, moreover, the widow s 
son to life ; but the priest does more : he 
raises to life the dead soul, not of one 
man, but of hundreds and thousands. In 
Baptism, and especially in the sacrament 
of Confession, he raises to the life of grace 
the souls of those that were dead in mortal 


Elias caused fire to rain from heaven 
upon the heads of the wicked. The priest 
causes not merely material fire to fall from 
heaven, he does far more : he causes the 
fire of divine love to fall upon the cold 
heart of the sinner, and moves him to con 
trition ; he inflames him to a new and per 
fect life. 

Again, the priest is greater than the 
prophets. The prophets beheld the Re 
deemer only from afar, only in the dim 
future. The priest beholds Him present 
before his eyes. He touches the long- 
wished for Blessed Redeemer with his 
hands ; he offers Him up to the Heavenly 
Father ; he carries Him through the streets ; 
he even feeds on the precious blood of 
this Holy One ; he even receives Him into 
his heart, and unites himself most inti 
mately with Him in Holy Communion. 
The prophets foretold that when the 


fulness of time would come, God would 
write His law, not on stone, but on men s 
hearts. He would govern men, not by 
the law of servile fear, but by the sweet 
bonds of holy love ; that God Himself 
would dwell in them, and direct them by 
His grace. Now this fulness of time, for 
which the prophets sighed, has come. 
God gives His grace, His own divine life 
to man, and He gives it abundantly ; and 
as the ministers of this grace, he has 
chosen, not the prophets, not His angels, 
but His priests. 

The Catholic priest has the primacy of 
Abel. Abel was hated and persecuted by 
his wicked brother ; the priest is hated 
and persecuted by the wicked among his 

The priest has the patriarchal dignity of 
Abraham. Abraham is called the Father 
of the Faithful. The priest is, in reality, 


the Father of the Faithful, for he makes 
them the children of God by preaching 
the Gospel, and especially by administer 
ing to them the Sacraments. 

He stands at the helm of the Church, 
the ark of salvation, like Noah. 

He is consecrated forever, according to 
the Order of Melchisedech. 

He is invested with a dignity far higher 
than that of Aaron. Aaron offered up 
only the blood of sheep and oxen ; the 
Catholic priest offers up the blood of the 
Lamb of God, our Lord Jesus Christ. 

The priest has the authority of Moses. 
Moses led the people of God through the 
desert to the promised laud ; the Catholic 
priest leads the children of God through 
the desert of this life to the true Land of 
Promise our home in heaven. 

The priest has the power of St. Peter, 
the power of the keys, the power of 


binding and loosing, the power of forgiv 
ing and of retaining sins. The priest has 
the power to free the sinner from the 
bonds of sin and hell, and to open to him 
the gates of heaven. He has the power 
to transform him from a slave of the devil 
to a child of God. 

Let us take a man who, of his own free 
will, has made himself a slave of sin, a 
slave of the devil. Who shall free him 
from this shameful bondage? Shall we 
call upon the angels and saints of heaven? 
The saints of heaven are the friends of 
God, and God honors them by hearing 
their prayers. They may pray for the 
sinner, they may obtain for him innumer 
able graces, but they cannot free him from 
a single sin. 

Shall we call upon his guardian-angel ? 
The guardian-angel may warn the sinner, 
he may assist him, he may urge him to do 


penance, but the guardian-angel cannot 
free him from the chains of sin. 

Shall we call upon St. Michael? St. 
Michael is most powerful ; he is the prince 
of the heavenly hosts ; he has conquered 
Satan and his hellish crew. He can com 
pel the evil spirits to flee away from the 
sinner, but he cannot free that sinner from 
a single sin. 

Shall we, then, call upon the Blessed 
Virgin Mary herself? The Blessed Vir 
gin Mary is the Mother of God ; she is 
the Queen of angels and of men ; her very 
name is the terror of hell. She can pray 
for the sinner, and her prayers are all- 
powerful with God, but she cannot forgive 
a single sin ; no ! not even a single venial 

Seek where you will, throughout heaven 
and earth, and you will find but one cre 
ated being who can forgive the sinner, 


who can free him from the chains of sin 
and hell ; and that extraordinary being is 
the priest, the Catholic priest. " Who can 
forgive sins except God?" was the ques 
tion which the Pharisees sneeringly asked. 
" Who can forgive sins ? " is the question 
which the Pharisees of the present day 
also ask ; and I answer, there is a man on 
earth that can forgive sins, and that man 
is the Catholic priest. 

Yes, beloved brethren, the priest not 
only declares that the sinner is forgiven, 
but he really forgives him. The priest 
raises his hand, he pronounces the words 
of absolution, and in an instant, quick as 
a flash of light, the chains of hell are 
burst asunder, and the sinner becomes a 
child of God. So great is the power of 
the priest, that the judgments of heaven 
itself are subject to his decision ; the priest 
absolves on earth, and God absolves in. 


heaven. " Whatsoever thou shalt bind on 
earth shall be bound in heaven, and what 
soever thou shalt loose on earth shall be 
loosed also in heaven." These are the 
ever-memorable words which Jesus Christ 
addressed to the Apostles and to their 
successors in the priesthood. 

Suppose that our Saviour Himself were 
to come down from heaven, and were to 
appear here in our midst ; suppose He 
were to enter one of the confessionals, to 
hear confessions. Now let a priest enter 
another confessional for the same purpose. 
Suppose that two sinners go to confession, 
both equally well disposed, equally con 
trite. Let one of these go to the priest, 
and the other to our Saviour Himself. 
Now our Lord Jesus Christ says to the 
sinner that comes to Him, "I absolve thee 
from thy sins," and the priest says to the 
sinner that goes to him, "I absolve thee 


from thy sins." Now the absolution of 
the priest will be just as valid, just as 
powerful, as the absolution of Jesus Christ 
Himself. The sinner who goes to the 
priest to confession, will be just as well 
absolved as the sinner who goes to our 
blessed Lord Himself. 

At the end of the world, Jesus Christ 
shall judge all men Himself; "for the 
Father judges no one, but He has left all 
judgment to His divine Son " ; but as 
long as this world lasts, Jesus Christ has 
left all judgment to His priests. He has 
vested them with His own authority, with 
His own power. "He that heareth you," 
He says, "heareth Me." He has given 
them His own divine Spirit. "Receive ye 
the Holy Ghost ; whosesoever sins you shall 
forgive, they are forgiven ; and whosesoever 
sins you shall retain, they are retained." 

The priest is the ambassador, the plen- 


ipotentiary, of God. He is the cooperator, 
the assistant, of God in the work of Ee- 
demption. Beloved brethren, this is no 
exaggeration, it is the inspired language 
of the Apostle: "Dei adjutores sumus." 
(1 Cor. iii.) "We are the cooperators, 
the assistants, of God." It is to the priest 
that God speaks, when He says : "Judge 
between Me and My people." "Judica 
inter Me et vineam meam." (Isa. v.) 
"This man," says God, speaking to the 
priest, " this man is a sinner ; he has of 
fended Me grievously ; I could judge him 
Myself, but I leave this judgment to your 
decision. I shall forgive him as soon as 
you grant him forgiveness. He is My 
enemy, but I shall admit him to My 
friendship as soon as you declare him 
worthy. I shall open the gates of heaven 
to him, as soon as you free him from the 
chains of sin and hell." 


Great was the power and dignity of 
Joseph, the Viceroy of Egypt. From the 
prison, he was raised to the throne. From 
the rank of a slave, he was elevated to the 
first dignity in the kingdom. The King 
of Egypt took off his own ring, and placed 
it upon the finger of Joseph. He clothed 
him in costly robes. He placed a chain 
of gold around his neck. He caused him 
to ascend into his second chariot, and com 
manded the herald to go before him to 
proclaim aloud that all should bend the 
knee before his viceroy Joseph. And the 
king said to Joseph : " Thou shalt rule 
over my house. Thy orders, my people 
shall obey ; and without thy commands, 
no man shall move hand or foot in all the 
land of Egypt, and thou shalt be called 
the saviour of the world." (Gen. xli. 

Great indeed was the dignity to which 


Joseph was raised ; but the dignity to 
which God has raised the priest, is infin 
itely greater. From the rank of a slave 
a vile slave of sin and hell God has 
elevated him to a dignity far surpassing 
that of the angels and saints of heaven. 
God has clothed the priest in the costly 
robe of grace and innocence. He has 
placed around his neck the golden chain 
of charity and mercy. He has placed on 
his finger the ring of power and authority. 
He has given the priest the almighty 
power of forgiving sins. 

The priest has received from God the 
power of forgiving sins. But do you 
know, beloved brethren, what it means to 
have the power of forgiving, of destroying, 
sin? Sin is so great an evil, that were 
all the men on earth, were all the saints 
and angels of heaven to perform the most 
vigorous penances, were they to sacrifice 


everything for love of God, yet, with all 
their good works, they would not suffice 
to blot out a single sin. Nay, even the 
fierce fires of hell, though burning through 
out all eternity, can never destroy a single 
mortal sin. To have the power of moving 
mountains is indeed something great ; but 
to have the power of removing sin from 
the soul is something far greater. To 
have the power to raise the dead to life is 
wonderful ; but the power to raise the 
dead soul to life is still more wonderful. 
To have the power to create new worlds, 
is to partake of God s own Omnipotence ; 
but to have the power of forgiving, of de 
stroying, sin, is to hold the very place of 
God Himself it is to perform one of the 
greatest works of God s almighty power. 
Before concluding this point, I would 
wish to address a few words, in all charity, 


to those of my kind hearers who may not as 
yet be members of the Catholic Church. 

There are many noble-hearted, precious 
souls ; they are created by God for a high 
purpose created to shine amid the bright 
angels throughout all eternity. They are 
created with such keen sensibilities, that 
they seem born only to suffer and to weep. 
Their path to heaven is indeed a path of 
thorns. Their griefs and yearnings are 
such, that but few can understand them. 
God help these noble souls, if they are 
deprived of the strength and consolations 
of the Catholic Church 1 Out of the 
Church, such a gifted soul must bear her 
anguish alone. She was told, in the hour 
of happiness, that religion would console 
her in the hour of sorrow. And now her 
hour of sorrow has come. Whither shall 
she turn for strength and consolation? 
She turns to her books to her Bible. 


But books are cold and wearisome ; their 
words are dead. Oh, how she envies the 
penitent Magdalen, who could sit at Jesus s 
feet, and hear from His blessed lips the 
sweet words of pardon and peace ! She 
turns to God in prayer ; but God answers 
her not by the Urim and Thummim ; and, 
in her doubt and loneliness, she envies 
even the Jews of old. Ah ! she listens in 
vain for the voice of God, because God 
has appointed a voice to answer her ; but 
that voice is only within the shepherd s 
fold ; and she is kept without the fold by 
the cruel enemy, and the shepherd s voice 
cannot reach her. 

Ah, how different it is with the faithful 
Catholic soul ! Try to call to mind some 
virtuous friend of your acquaintance ; try 
to imagine one who is learned and pious, 
devoting his whole life, not to the care of 
a family, but solely to the service of God ; 


imagine such a one ever ready to aid you 
in your necessities, spiritual and even 
temporal, ever wise in giving counsel, 
gentle in reproving, clear in teaching, an<J 
powerful in word and deed ; imagine that 
such a one were your friend your inti 
mate friend how great would be your 
happiness ! 

Imagine, moreover, that this kind, 
trustworthy friend, were appointed by God 
Himself to be your constant guide and 
director ; imagine that he was bound by 
the most sacred oaths never to reveal, 
even by word or look, any secret you 
might confide to him ; imagine, moreover, 
that this friend had received from God the 
power to forgive every sin that you con 
fess to him with true contrition imagine 
all this, and you will have what every 
Catholic has in his confessor. The good 
Catholic is accustomed, even from his 


childhood, to communicate to his confes 
sor every trial and temptation that dis 
turbs his peace of heart. He goes to his 
confessor for consolation in the hour of 
darkness and sorrow ; he asks his advice 
when in doubt ; he consults him in every 
important undertaking. Our Lord Jesus 
Christ promised His beloved disciples that 
though He would quit the earth, yet He 
would not leave them "orphans," He 
would send them the Spirit of Truth to be 
their comforter. Now this divine promise 
was ratified, and even in a great measure 
fulfilled, when, on Easter Sunday night, 
Jesus appeared to His Apostles and gave 
them the Holy Ghost, saying : ff Receive 
ye the Holy Ghost. Whosesoever sins you 
forgive, they are forgiven them, and whose 
soever sins you retain, they are retained." 
On this solemn moment Jesus made His 
priests to be the fathers of the faithful, 

from whom they were to receive the spirit 
of grace and consolation, even to the end 
of time. 

The same Divine Hand which poured 
such wonderful affection into the heart of 
the mother, fills the heart of the priest 
with divine charity, and teaches him to 
adapt his treatment to the spiritual wants 
of his penitent. The priest feels for his 
penitent as an earthly father feels for his 
child ; and as a spiritual father, he judges 
and decides according as he thinks it is 
best for the eternal welfare of the penitent. 

Ah ! believe me, my dear Protestant 
friends, you cannot imagine the consola 
tion, the peace of mind which a Catholic 
experiences when he has made a good 
confession ; when he leaves the feet of the 
priest with the divine assurance which 
faith gives him, that his sins are really 
and truly forgiven. You cannot realize 


this joy by any force of the imagination. 
To understand this happiness you must 
experience it as the Roman Catholic ex 
periences it, who confesses with the infal 
lible certainty that the priest has received 
from Christ the power to forgive sins. 
The Episcopalian " Book of Common 
Prayer," at least in England, teaches that 
when one is sick and dying he may have 
recourse to confession, and obtain the 
pardon of his sins, if his conscience be 
troubled with any weighty matter. The 
Catholic, however, needs not to wait until 
he is at the point of death, he can obtain 
the pardon of his sins whenever he desires 
it. He does not need to wait until his 
conscience is burdened by some grave 
matter, he can go to confession and obtain 
pardon for those daily sins and failings 
that vex the heart and weigh down the 


spirit by their frequent recurrence, even 
in spite of all our watchfulness. 

To the faithful Catholic soul, the portals 
of the Catholic Church stand ever open. 
Hither she may come as to a healing foun 
tain, whose waters ever flow. Here she 
may lave her burning brow ; here she may 
drink of the cooling stream, and allay the 
feverish anguish of her soul. Here Jesus 
Himself, the dearest of friends, speaks to 
her by the mouth of him to whom He has 
given the Holy Ghost the spirit of con 

Mrs. Moore, a very intelligent lady of 
Edinton, N. Carolina, and a convert to 
our holy faith, said to her Protestant chil 
dren on her death-bed : " O my children, 
there is such hope, such comfort in our 
holy religion ! When I was so near death, 
and believed I should never see you again, 
my soul was filled with anguish. When 


I thought I was so soon to meet my God, 
I feared ; but when I had made my con 
fession to His own commissioned minister, 
and received absolution in the name of 
the Holy Trinity, death was divested of 
every sting. Each day I thank God more 
and more that He has given me grace to 
break the ties that kept me from the 
Church. I have never looked back with 
regret, and, in fact, I wonder why I could 
ever have been anything but a Catholic." 



GOD has given to the priest the keys of 
heaven. He has given the priest power 
over the faithful, over His mystic body ; 
but Pie has given the priest even a more 
extraordinary power, a power so stupen 
dous, so unutterably great, that, had we 
not the grace of faith, we could never be 
lieve it. He has given to the priest 
power over His own Sacred Body, power 
over Himself! The eternal, Omnipotent 
God, in whose presence the pillars of 
heaven tremble, that God before whom 
the earth, and all that dwell thereon, be 
fore whom the boundless universe, with all 
its countless suns and planets, before 


whom all created things are but as a drop 
of water, as a grain of dust, as if they 
were not ; that God of infinite majesty and 
glory is subject to the priest. He in 
stantly descends from heaven in obedience 
to the voice of His priest ! The monarchs 
of the earth have great power s their 
commands are obeyed, their very name is 
respected and feared. Thousands and thous 
ands of their fellow-men are subject to them. 
Their power is great indeed, but there is 
one on earth whose power is greater. 

Great was the power of Adam when he 
came forth from the hands of God, in all 
the majesty of justice and innocence. He 
was king of creation, and all the creatures 
of the earth obeyed him. 

Great was the power of Moses, when, 
by a single word, he divided the waters 
of the sea, and led avast multitude dry-shod 
through the midst of the surging billows. 


Great was the power of Elias, who 
caused fire to rain from heaven upon the 
heads of his enemies. 

Great was the power of Joshua, who, 
in the heat of battle, raised his hands to 
heaven, and commanded the sun : "Move 
not, O sun!" he cried, "and thou moon, 
stand still " ; and the sun and the moon 
obeyed his voice. They stood still in the 
midst of the heavens, for the space of an 
entire day ! 

Great, indeed, was the power which God 
thus gave to man, but there is one on earth 
to whom God has given power infinitely 
greater. There is a man who opens at 
will the gates of heaven, who speaks to 
the eternal Son of God, and at his voice 
the God of heaven descends on earth, and 
subjects Himself to his control. We are 
astonished at the words of the Evangelist 
when he tells us that Jesus, the Son of 


God, was subject to Mary and Joseph. 
"Et erat subditus illia : and He was subject 
to them." But at least some reasons may 
be assigned to show the fitness of this 
obedience. Mary was the most pure and 
holy, the most perfect of God s creatures ; 
she was the mother of God, and as such, 
had a certain right to the obedience of her 
Son ; but when we see a weak, sinful man 
gifted with a power which angels dare not 
claim, when we see a weak, sinful man 
possessing power over God Himself, pos 
sessing power to bear Him, to place Him, 
to give Him to whom he wills, we cannot 
help exclaiming in amazement: "O won 
drous miracle ! O unheard-of power ! " 
And yet, beloved brethren, it is most true ; 
we know it with all the certainty of faith. 
We are as certain of it as we are of the 
existence of God. There is a man on 


earth who possesses this extraordinary 
power, and that man is the Catholic priest ! 

The power which God has given to the 
priest is even far more excellent than the 
power of creation. By creation, God pro 
duces the substance of bread out of noth 
ing, by His word ; but by the words of the 
priest in consecration, the substance of 
bread is changed into the most Sacred 
Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. 

So sublime is the dignity of the priest 
hood, that, in order to establish it, our 
Lord Jesus Christ had to die. To redeem 
the world, it was not necessary that our 
Lord should die. A single drop of His 
Sacred Blood, a single tear, a single prayer 
of His would have sufficed; but in order 
to establish the priesthood, our Lord had 
to die. He had to leave the priests of his holy 
religion a fitting sacrifice ; he had to leave 
them a victim pure, holy, undefiled, worthy 


of God ; and in the entire universe no victim 
could be found so worthy as Himself. 

Hence our Lord Jesus Christ instituted, 
at the Last Supper, the sacrifice of His 
Sacred Body and Blood. On the night 
before His Passion, our Blessed Redeemei , 
in presence of His Apostles, offered up 
bread and wine to His Heavenly Father ; 
He then, by His almighty power, changed 
the bread and wine into His Sacred Body 
and Blood, and offered up His Body and 
Blood in sacrifice for our sins. " This," 
he said, " is my Blood, which is shed for 
the remission of sin." 

He then empowered His Apostles to 
offer up this same Divine sacrifice. "Do 
this," He said, or sacrifice this, " in remem 
brance of me." It was, then, our Divine 
Saviour Himself who first offered up the 
sacrifice of the New Law the sacrifice 
of His Body and Blood which we call 

:otL CNftiST! Rftll 


the holy sacrifice of the Mass. The first 
Mass, then, that was ever celebrated on 
earth, was offered up by our Lord Jesus 
Christ Himself, at the Last Supper. 

Now all good works together are not of 
equal value with the sacrifice of the Mass, 
because they are the works of men ; but 
the holy Mass is the work of God. Mar 
tyrdom is nothing in comparison it is 
the sacrifice that man makes of his life to 
God ; but the Mass is the Sacrifice that 
God makes of His Body and of His Blood 
for man. In this sacrifice there is noth 
ing to be seen but the Infinite. The priest 
is God the victim is God. The holy 
sacrifice of Mass is essentially the very same 
as the sacrifice of the cross. It differs from 
the sacrifice of the cross only in appear 
ance. On Mount Calvary, the victim 
offered to God was the living Body and 
Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, and in 


the holy sacrifice of the Mass, the victim 
is also the living Body and Blood of our 
Lord Jesus Christ. 

On Mount Calvary , the priest that offered 
the sacrifice was our Lord Jesus Christ 
Himself; and in the holy sacrifice of the 
Mass, the priest that offers sacrifice is also 
our Lord Jesus Christ. 

On Mount Calvary, Jesus Christ was 
really and visibly present, and on the altar, 
during holy Mass, Jesus Christ is also 
really present, though invisible. 

On the cross, our Saviour died a painful 
and bloody death ; but in the holy Mass, 
our Saviour dies only in appearance, or, 
as it is called, a mystical death. 

In the holy sacrifice of the Mass, the 
Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ 
are not dead; no, it is the living Body, 
the living, warm heart s Blood ; it is the 
living, rational soul of our Lord Jesus 


Christ, united to His Divinity, that are 
offered to God in the holy Mass. It is 
this which gives the holy Mass an infinite 
value ; which makes it the highest worship 
that can ever be offered to God. In the 
holy Mass, the Son of God worships His 
Heavenly Father for you ; He prays for 
you ; He asks pardon for you ; He adores, 
He gives thanks for you. 

What, then, must be the effects of this 
august sacrifice? God, appeased by the 
sacrifice of the Mass, forgives even the 
most enormous sins by granting to the 
sinner the grace of doing penance for them. 
Without doubt, it is to the efficacy of the 
Mass that we must attribute the less fre 
quent occurrence, in later times, of those 
terrible punishments which God formerly 
inflicted on the wicked. " It is to the 
Mass," says Timothy of Jerusalem, "that 
the entire world owes its preservation ; 


without it, the sins of men would have 
annihilated it long ago." (Orat. de Proph.) 
Now the Catholic priest is the only one 
of God s creatures who can offer to Him 
the holy sacrifice of the Mass. It is by a 
single Mass that he gives God for you, 
and for all men, more honor, and more 
thanks, than all the angels and saints of 
heaven. It is by a single Mass that he 
obtains for you, and for all men, more 
blessings ; that he averts from you, and 
from all men, more chastisements ; that he 
appeases God more efficaciously than all 
the prayers of the angels and saints of 
heaven can do. 

The priest s hands, more sacred than 
the cherubim that upheld the mercy-seat, 
more venerable than the sapphire throne 
on which appeared the Ancient of days, 
more blessed than even the spotless womb 
of the immaculate Virgin Mary his 


hands touch and handle the Incarnate 
Word of God. His hands bear that sa 
cred Body, before whose dazzling splen 
dor the angels veil their faces in trembling 
awe. Yes, at the altar I can imagine the 
blessed spirits in the attitude in which St. 
John the Evangelist beheld them. "They 
lay prostrate on their face before the Lamb 
of God." (Apoc. vii. 11.) But the 
priest is standing at the altar ; his is the 
authority, and his the action. The angels 
are only witnesses of the holy sacrifice, 
and God wills that the priest should be its 
minister. The angels are prostrated be 
fore the Lamb of God upon the altar, but 
the priest is at the table of the Divine 
Lamb ; he incorporates Himself with Him 
Whom the angels hardly dare look upon. 
The holy Church, contemplating the 
unutterable privilege of the Bleised 
Mother of God, cries out in adm.irftV.or ; 


W O blessed is the womb of the Virgin Mary, 
that bore the Son of the Eternal God, and 
blessed are the breasts that suckled Christ 
our Lord ! " But we can say, with even 
more justice : "O blessed, thrice blessed, 
are the hands of the priest into which the 
Eternal Son of God descends every day 
from heaven; blessed are those hands 
which bear, which handle, which sacrifice 
the ever-blessed Son of God I" The Son 
of God descended but once into the chaste 
womb of the Virgin Mary, but He de 
scends every day into the hands of the 

Five words of her humility brought 
the Eternal Word into her sacred womb. 
Five words of the power of the priest 
bring the same Eternal Word upon the 
altar. If the consent which Mary gave 
was the conditional cause of the mystery 
of the Incarnation, the action of the priest, 


speaking in the name, and in the all-pow 
erful virtue of Jesus Christ, is the efficient 
cause of Transubstantiation the New In 
carnation which is but an extension of 
the first. And what Mary did but once, 
the priest does every day. While she 
gave to the Son of God a life of suffering, 
which ended by the torment of the cross, 
the priest renders Him present, in his 
hands, in a state immortal and impassible. 
Oh, beloved brethren ! with whom shall 
I compare the priest? Next to God, his 
equal cannot be found, either in heaven or 
on earth. It is in establishing the priest 
hood that God seems to have exhausted 
all the treasures of His power and mercy. 
Indeed, in the light of faith, the man dis 
appears altogether in the priest. Faith 
beholds in him nothing but Jesus Christ, 
continuing, in him and through him, the 
work of Redemption, for the honor of His 


Father and the salvation of mankind. Faith 
sees but Jesus Christ Himself in the priest 
when he preaches : "Go," says Jesus Christ 
to the priest, "as My Father has sent Me, 
so send I you. All power is given to Me 
in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, 
teach all nations ; he who heareth you, 
heareth Me." 

Faith sees but Jesus Christ in the priest 
when he remits sin. The priest does not 
say : "Jesus Christ absolve thee " ; no, he 
says : "I absolve thee." 

Faith sees but Jesus Christ in the priest 
when he consecrates at Mass ; for at the 
consecration the priest does not say: 
" This is Christ s Body " ; he says : " This 
is my Body." 

Faith sees in the priest but the man of 
the Blessed Trinity. "Go," says Jesus 
Christ to the priest, " baptize all nations 
in the name of the Father, and of the Son, 


and of the Holy Ghost." The priest is 
the man of God the Father, to sustain His 
cause, to make His name respected, to de 
fend His interests, to promote His glory, 
to vindicate His honor, to adopt for Him 
children, to prepare them for His service 
and His Kingdom. 

The priest is the man of the Son of 
God ; he is the preacher of His Gospel, 
the sacrificer of His Body, the dispenser 
of His mysteries, the treasurer of all His 

The priest is the man of the Holy Ghost. 
Pie is His .organ to enlighten the minds of 
men, to purify and sanctify their hearts, to 
establish and confirm in their souls a most 
intimate union with this Divine guest. 

"I in them," says Jesus Christ of the 
priests, " and thou (Father) in me. The 
glory which thou hast given me, I have 
given them." (John 17, 22, 23.) Truly, 


"the priest," says St. Ambrose, f " is a man 
all divine ; " and the royal prophet says 
particularly of the priests, "Ye are gods." 
To forgive sins, to cause the Holy Ghost to 
dwell in the soul, to change bread and 
wine into the body of God, are miracles 
that can be performed only by God Him 
self. Now the priests perform these mir 
acles every day, and consequently they 
may be truly said to be gods ; and St. 
Gregory Nazianzen is right in saying : 
"The priest is a God on earth, and his 
mission is to make gods of his fellow-men. " 
Next to God, the priest is everything. 
Truly the Catholic priest can only be un- 
stood in heaven. If we could understand 
him upon earth, we should die of love. 

What admiration and respect, what love 
and veneration, would be elicited for him 
whom the Lord would associate with 
Himself in the government of the universe, 


ruling, with him, the course of the stars, the 
vicissitudes of the seasons, and, add if you 
will, creating with him new worlds. Avoca 
tion so marvellous would place in a rank by 
itself this privileged mortal. But the priest 
is the object of a distinction far more glo 
rious. He is not called, it is true, to 
direct the course of the sun, to excite or 
calm the winds all that is within the cir 
cle of nature and time. But the priest is 
called to give to heaven the elect, to snatch 
victims from hell, to sanctify souls, to con 
cur in the redemption of a world, spiritual 
and indestructible, to fill the greatest of 
kingdoms with inhabitants all radiant with 
glory, divine and everlasting. 

Since God, then, has placed the priest 
upon the throne of His own adorable 
sanctity, since He gives to the priest the 
title of " Saviour of the World," since He 
calls the priest "His cooperator in the divine 


work of redemption," what wonder if He 
commands all to obey and honor the 
priest as they honor and obey Himself? 
"He that heareth you," He says to the 
priest, "heareth Me, and he thatdespiseth 
you, despiseth Me." "He that toucheth 
you, toucheth the apple of Mine eye." 
Since the priest has been so much honored 
by God Himself, what wonder is it that 
he should be honored by angels and men? 
St. Francis de Sales saw the guardian 
angel of a young priest, whom he had or 
dained, go in advance to the right of the 
priest, before his ordination ; but after his 
ordination, the angel went to the left of 
the priest and followed him. 

The Emperor Constantine, at the Coun 
cil of Nice, sat last. Wenceslaus, King 
of Poland, would not sit down in the 
presence of a priest. 

St. Catharine of Sienna, and Mary of 


Oignies, kissed the ground on which a 
priest had walked. 

St. Francis of Assissium said that if he 
saw an angel from heaven, and a priest, 
he would first bow to the priest and then 
to the angel, for the angel is the friend of 
God, but the priest holds His place. 



GREAT, unutterably great, indeed, are 
the powers of the Catholic priest. But it 
is not merely as the celebrator of the 
rites of Divine worship ; it is not merely 
as the minister of the sacraments ; it is 
not merely as the preacher of God s Holy 
Word, that the Catholic priest stands con 
spicuous in the midst of his people. No, 
beloved brethren, he has not received his 
extraordinary powers for himself; he 
cannot absolve himself; he cannot admin 
ister the sacraments to himself; he lives 
not for himself; no, he lives for the peo- 
8 (113) 


pie : he is the companion of their hard 
ships, he is the soother of their afflictions, 
the guardian of their interests ; he is the 
trustee of their hearts, the sentinel of 
their death-beds. 

From his youth, the priest renounces 
the glory and honors of this world. He 
bids an eternal farewell to family pleas 
ures, and to a thousand enjoyments that 
are permitted to others, in order to sac 
rifice himself freely for the good of his 
fellow-men : to be their father and best 
friend. The priest generally spends, 
previous to his ordination, from about 
ten to twelve years in hard studies, which 
often undermine the health and weary 
the mind. And for whose benefit is it 
that he undertakes so many difficult 
studies during the best part of his life ? 
It is for the benefit of the people ; it is to 
enable himself to teach and guide aright, 


in the pathway to heaven, all those who 
will be placed under his spiritual direc 
tion. After his ordination, the priest 
spends all the days of his life in the ser 
vice of his neighbor. On Sundays you 
see him, for your temporal and spiritual 
welfare, at the altar, or in the pulpit, or 
in the confessional. On week-days you 
may see him, early in the morning, 
raising his hands to God, in prayer, in 
offering the atoning sacrifice for the peo 
ple ; and the man of charity the priest 
of God spends the remainder of the 
day in preparing his sermons, in instruct 
ing the children in school in their cate 
chism, in relieving the poor, in visiting 
the sick, in wiping away the tears of the 
unfortunate, in causing the tears of re 
pentance to flow, in instructing the igno 
rant, in strengthening the weak, and in 


encouraging the good in the practice of 

Go through the streets of any of our 
cities or towns. Enter the hut of the 
poor. Ask them who gave them the 
alms that keep them from death and de 
spair, and they will tell you that it was 
the priest, or some charitable soul guided 
by the zeal of the priest. 

Go to the sick-bed ; draw near the bed 
side of that poor wretch whom every one 
has forsaken : ask him who is the consol 
ing angel that pours upon his weary heart 
the balm of hope and consolation, and he 
will tell you it is the priest. 

About twenty years ago, when the 
French troops were encamped around 
Gallipolis, the cholera burst suddenly 
upon them. They were unprepared for 
that terrible visitor. Father Gloriot, S. J. , 
alone in an army of ten thousand 


men. "I was obliged," says he, "to hear 
their confessions on my knees, and stoop 
ing by their couches. Indeed, I learned 
then that to save souls for Jesus Christ it 
is necessary to undergo, with Him, the 
double agony of mind and body. Yet 
my greatest trial was my loneliness. I 
was alone ; I had not had the consolation 
of confession for six weeks past ; every 
body died around me ; and, should I be 
taken sick, there was none to assist me in 
my dying hour. But God, in His mercy, 
preserved me, that I might attend to the 
wants of souls so well prepared. The 
trials were certainly great, but great were 
also the consolations. Whenever I en 
tered those places of desolation I was 
hailed from all parts f Chaplain, here ! 
come here I to me ! Make haste to rec 
oncile me with God ! I have only a few 
moments to live ! Some would press 


my hand to their hearts, and say, with 
grateful feelings, How lucky for us that 
you are here ! Were you not with us, 
who would console us in our last mo 
ments ? " 

Enter the dark and mouldy dungeon 
where the unhappy prisoner pines away 
in weary captivity ; ask him who it is that 
lightens his chains and makes his prison 
walls look less dreary, and he will tell 
you it is the priest. 

Go upon the scaffold where the wretched 
criminal is about to expiate his crime. 
Who is it that stands at his side, and strips 
death of its terrors? It is again the 
priest. With one hand the priest shows 
the dying man the cross, the hope of the 
repentant sinner, and with the other he 
points to heaven, that blessed home where 
the weary find rest. 

In 1851, the following murder was com- 


mitted near Paris, in France : A captain 
of the carbineers, an excellent officer, be 
loved by all, going, as usual, the rounds 
of the stables, had reprimanded one of 
the troopers whose conduct had not been 
very regular. The latter made no reply, 
but turned away with apparently a calm 
countenance, and went up to the mess- 
room. There he loaded one of his horse- 
pistols, and, going back to the stable, 
approached his captain, and, with a deadly 
aim, discharged the arm against the loins 
of the officer. 

The unfortunate man fell, weltering in 
blood. They had taken him up, carried 
him to his room, and the surgeons had 
pronounced the wound mortal. In fact 
the poor captain had breathed his last in 
a few hours after, in the arms of his old 
mother, in the midst of horrible sufferings, 
endured heroically, and with sentiments 


of faith and charity truly admirable. He 
had made his confession with great piety, 
had received the Blessed Sacrament, and, 
in imitation of his Divine Master praying 
on the cross for His crucifiers, had par 
doned his murderer, and begged for his 
pardon with the most touching and press 
ing appeal. 

The murderer had been arrested on the 
spot, and transferred to the prison in 
Paris. There he was abandoned by all, 
except by the priest. Two or three days 
after the deed had been committed, the 
priest went to see the trooper for the first 
time in the cell of the military prison. 
He encouraged him to hope in the mercy 
of God, and to prepare himself for a 
good confession, and to accept death in 
expiation for his crime. The poor crim 
inal was touched by the words of the 
priest, and said : " I have been the victim 


of a moment of fury and insanity. It 
was a punishment from God, whom I had 
abandoned. Had I always prayed as I 
do now, I should not have come to this 
pass. My father said to me often : Fear 
God, and pray to Him ; He alone is good, 
all the rest are nothing ! But it is so 
hard to do so at the regiment; we are 
always surrounded by young men who 
say nothing but what is bad." When he 
heard that he was sentenced to death, he 
exclaimed : "The sentence is just ; to ap 
peal would be going against the goodness 
of God. They would show me a mercy 
that I do not wish for, because the pun 
ishment must be undergone. I must atone 
for what I have done. My hopes are no 
longer here below ; I have only God now to 
look to. He is now everything to me ; in 
Him alone do I trust ; I feel quite calm ; 


I feel no rebellion in my heart ; I am 
perfectly resigned to the will of God." 

Now what brought about that calmness, 
that happiness, in this poor prisoner? It 
was his sincere confession, which the 
priest was kind enough to hear ; it was 
Holy Communion, which the priest 
brought to him several times ; in a word, 
it was the charity of the priest, who 
often went to see him in his prison, in 
order to console him, and to inspire him 
with great confidence in the mercy of 

During the three hours and a half of 
the drive to the place of execution, he 
never lost his calmness ; God was with him 
in the person of the priest, who accom 
panied him to the Savory Plains, where 
he was to be shot. What a touching 
spectacle, to behold, on a wagon, a tall 
man the culprit followed by the priest 


of God to see how the priest was even 
paler than the culprit; and, to see them 
walking side by side, you would think 
that he was the one to be shot ! 

The expression of the culprit s coun 
tenance was great calmness and resigna 
tion ; his eyes betrayed at once sorrow 
and hope. He seemed to pray with fer 
vor. There was no sadness in his looks ; 
there could even be seen the reflection 
of a certain inward joy. He listened 
with love, and deep attention, to the words 
addressed to him by the minister of Jesus 
Christ. When the priest said to him, 
"Our Lord is between us two, my poor 
child, we are always well when the good 
Saviour is with us," he replied, "Oh, 
yes, my heart is perfectly happy; I did 
not think I should tell you, but I feel as 
if I was going to a wedding. God has 
permitted all this for my good, to save 


my soul. I feel so much consoled, think 
ing that my poor captain died so Chris- 
tianly ! 1 am going to see him : he is 
praying for me now. My God has saved 
me ; I feel that He will have mercy on me. 
He ascended Calvary carrying His cross : 
I accompany Him. I shall not resist 
whatever they wish to do with me tie 
me, or bandage my eyes. Ah ! the poor 
soldiers are lost because they do not 
listen to you priests. Without you, 
without religion, the whole world would 
be lost ! " 

When they drove by the barracks, 
where he had committed the murder, he 
offered a prayer for his captain. "I can t 
conceive how I could do it ! I had no ill- 
will against him ! Could the commission 
of a sin save me from being shot, I would 
not do it ; I think so now. I have nothing 


to keep me here, I am going to see 
God ! " 

When they had arrived at the place of 
execution, the priest and the culprit 
alighted. An officer read the sentence. 
The culprit replied : " I acknowledge the 
justice of my punishment, I am sorry for 
what I have done, I beg of God to par 
don me ; I love Him with all my heart ! " 
Then he knelt ; the priest gave him the 
crucifix to kiss, for a last time. "My 
father," he said, with feeling expression, 
" my father, I place my soul within your 
hands ; I unite my death with that of my 
Saviour, Jesus. Farewell ! farewell ! " 
The priest embraced him once more. 
TheD, with his arms extended in the form 
of a cross, the culprit inclined his head, 
and awaited his death. The priest re 
tires to pray at some distance. One min 
ute after, human justice had been satisfied, 


and the soul of the unfortunate soldier, 
purified and transformed by religion, 
had fled to the bosom of Him who par 
dons all to those who repent. The 
priest resumed his place by him, and, 
with tears in his eyes, prayed, on his 
knees, for the departed soul of the unfor 
tunate carbineer. 

Ah ! beloved brethren, go where you 
will, through all the miseries of this life, 
and you will find that everywhere the 
consoling angel, the father of the poor 
and friendless, is the priest ; he labors 
day and night, without boasting, without 
praise, and often without any other re 
ward, in this life, than contempt and ingrat 
itude. If a dangerous disease breaks out 
in the parish, the priest does not abandon 
the post of danger. No, beloved breth 
ren, the Catholic priest is no coward, the 
Catholic priest is no hireling. Devoted 


and fearless, he remains to encourage his 
flock, to give them the last sacraments, 
and, if need be, even to die with them. 

A poor man is dying in his wretched 
hovel . In the midst of the winter s night 
the priest hears a knock at his door ; he 
is told that one of his flock requires his 
assistance. The bleak winter wind howls 
around him, the chilling rain beats pit 
ilessly in his face, yet he hurries on ; 
there is a soul to save, there is a soul to 
aid in its fearful death-struggle ; that 
makes him forget everything else. At 
last he enters the house of death ; he 
enters the sick man s room, though he 
knows that the very air of that room is 
loaded with pestilence. He receives the 
last whisper of the dying man ; he 
breathes into his ear the sweet words of 
pardon and of peace. He bends over the 
sick man s infected body, and breathes 


the tainted breath from his impoiscued 
lips. The priest is willing to risk his 
own life provided he can save the soul of 
his fellow-man. 

During the Crimean War, the cholera 
raged in the division of Herbillon. The 
soldiers became restless ; they looked 
gloomy, and spoko despondingly, because 
the victims were many, and ih was not the 
kind of death a soldier likes. What 
troubled the soldiers most, was the pre 
vailing thought that the plague was com 
municated by contact ; and there was 
great dejection in camp. "What shall we 
do, Monsieur 1 Abbe ? " said the General to 
Father Parabere ; " those boys look as if 
they were frightened." "O, it is neces 
sary to let that fear know that it has to 
attack Frenchmen and Christians ! leave 
it to me, General." And the dauntless 
priest walks straight to the very quarters 


where the pest raged most furiously. A 
poor soldier was in the last convulsions, 
and in the throes of his agony. The he 
roic priest had still time left to console and 
to absolve him, and then he closed his 
eyes. Then he called all the comrades 
of the dead man around his couch, and 
endeavored to persuade them that the 
scourge was not contagious ; but as some 
of them shook their heads, he added, 
"You will not believe me to-day, you 
shall to-morrow." And just think of it, the 
brave priest lies down on the same couch 
with the man dead of cholera, and prepares 
himself to pass the night with that novel 
bedfellow ! Many hours passed away, 
and Pere Parabere, who certainly had 
worked enough during the day to need 
rest, did not quit his post until he was 
called to prepare another man for death. 
On the morrow, the whole camp had heard 


of it, and the soldiers, recovering from 
their fear, said to one another, "There s a 
man who has no fear ! " 

It is only a few years ago that a young 
Irish priest, then in the first year of his 
mission in this country, received what to 
him was literally the death-summons. He 
was lying ill in bed when the " sick call " 
reached his house, the pastor of the dis 
trict being absent. The poor young 
priest did not hesitate a moment; no 
matter what the consequence to himself 
might be, the Catholic should not be 
without the consolations of religion. To 
the dismay of those who knew of his 
intention, and who remonstrated in vain 
against what to them appeared to be an 
act of madness, he started on his journey, 
a distance of thirty-six miles, which he 
accomplished on foot, in the midst of in 
cessant rain. Ah I who can tell how often 


he paused involuntarily on that terrible 
march, or how he reeled and staggered as 
he approached its termination? Scarcely 
had he reached the sick man s bed, and 
performed the functions of the ministry, 
when he was conscious of his own ap 
proaching death ; and there being no 
brother priest to minister to him in his 
last hour, he administered the viaticum to 
himself, and instantly sank on the floor, a 

Ah, my beloved brethren, how often 
does not the priest risk his health, his 
honor, his life, and even his immortal 
soul, iii order to help a poor dying sinner I 
How often is not the priest found on the 
battle-field, whilst the bullets are whist 
ling, and the shells are shrieking around 
him ! How often is he not found on his 
knees beside the dying soldier, hearing his 
last confession, and whispering into his 


ear the sweet words of pardon and peace ! 
How often must not the priest visit the 
plague-stricken in the hospitals, and in the 
wretched hovels of the poor ! How often 
must he not remain, even for hours, in a 
close room beside those infected with the 
most loathsome diseases ! When all else, 
when friends and relatives, when the near 
est and dearest have abandoned the poor 
dying wretch, then it is that only the 
priest of God can be found to assist him 
in his last and fearful struggle. 

Whilst St. Charles Borromeo was Bishop 
of Milan, there broke out a fierce plague 
in that city. The priests of the city gen 
erously offered their services. They en 
tered the houses of the plague-stricken ; 
they heard their confessions, and admin 
istered to them the last sacraments. 
Neither the loathsome disease, nor the 
fear of certain death, could appall them, 


and they all soon fell victims to their zeal. 
Death swept them away, but their places 
were filled by other generous priests, who 
hastened from the neighboring towns, 
and, in a short time, one thousand eight 
hundred priests fell victims to their char- 

And not in Italy alone, in every clime 
beneath the sun, the Catholic priest has 
proved the earnestness of his charity by 
the generous sacrifice of his life. I need 
only remind you of the sufferings and 
heroism of the Catholic priests of Ireland, 
during the long and bloody persecutions 
that have afflicted that ill-fated country. 
Their sad, yet glorious, history is, no 
doubt, familiar to you all. The Catholic 
priests of Ireland were outlawed ; they 
were commanded to quit the country ; 
they were hunted down like wolves. But, 
for all that, they did not abandon their 


poor, suffering children. They laid aside 
their rich vestments, they laid aside their 
priestly dress, and disguised themselves 
in the poorest and most humble attire. 
Their churches were burned down and 
desecrated ; but then the cabins of their 
persecuted countrymen were opened to 
them. And the Catholic priest shared in 
the poverty and the sorrows of his poor 
children. He followed them into the for 
est: he descended with them into the 
caves. Often in some lonely hut, in the 
midst of a dreary bog, or amid the wild 
fastnesses of the rugged mountains, the 
priest could be found kneeling at the bed 
side of a poor, dying father or mother, 
whilst pale and starving children were 
weeping around. There you could find 
the Catholic priest hearing the last con 
fession of that poor soul, aiding her in her 
death-struggle, and reciting the touching 


prayers of the church, by the dim flicker- 
ering of a poor rushlight. The Catholic 
priest did not abandon his poor, perse 
cuted flock, even though he knew that a 
price was set on his head, though he knew 
that spies and informers were in search of 
though he knew that well-trained 
blood-hounds were sent out to track him. 
The Catholic priest did not forsake his 
children, though he knew that if he were 
taken, the rack and the gibbet awaited 
him. He suffered not only poverty and 
sorrows with his poor flock, but he often 
underwent the most cruel death ; for when 
ever a priest was found in the country, the 
tender mercy of the tyrant had decreed 
that he was to be hanged, drawn and quar 

Ah, beloved brethren, would to God I 
could take you to the Martyr s Room in 
Paris, where priests, loving their God and 


their neighbors, are incessantly preparing 
themselves to go to preach the Gospel, 
suffer and die for the faith, among the 
Pagans ! Would to God you could see 
there that sacred army filled with generous 
soldiers of Jesus Christ, who aspire to the 
pacific conquest of infidel realms ; who 
burn with the hopes of shedding their 
blood on the battle-fields of faith, sacrifice, 
and martyrdom ; who very often attain, 
after a life of labors, toils, and torments, 
the ensanguined crown, which has been the 
goal of their life-long aspirations ! 

When they have attained it, when their 
head has fallen under a Pagan s sword, 
their vestments, their hallowed bones, the 
instruments of their martyrdom, are rev 
erently gathered by the Christians of the 
lands where they have been martyred, and 
sent to Paris ; and the hall where all these 
precious relics are gathered is called the 


Martyr s Room. The sight alone of this 
sanctuary, fresh with the blood of those 
lovers of Jesus Christ, is the most elo 
quent of sermons on the priest s charity 
towards the people. Bones, and skeletons, 
and skulls of martyred priests enclosed in 
glass cases, instruments of martyrdom, 
paintings representing insufferable tor 
ments, iron chains which tortured the 
limbs of the confessors of faith, ropes 
which strangled them, crucifixes crimsoned 
with the blood of those who impressed on 
them their last kiss of love, garments, en 
sanguined linen O, what a sight ! Great 
God, what a lesson ! 

Here a huge cangue, which rested for 
six long months on the shoulders of Bishop 
Borie, there a mat clogged with the blood 
of John Baptist Cor nay, who upon it was 
beheaded and quartered, like the animal 
that is butchered. Near by, a painting 


describing the horrible supplice of the 
blessed Marchant, whom the executioners 
chopped all alive, from head to foot, until 
he died of suffering and exhaustion. 
Everywhere, in every corner, the image 
of the good priest dying for the love of 
God and of his brethren, and of the fiend 
in human shape crucifying, with an inde 
fatigable hatred, our Lord Jesus Christ, 
in the person of His priests. 

Ah, if you wish to know what the Catholic 
priest has done, go ask the winds, that 
have heard his sighs and his prayers ; ask 
the earth, that has drunk in his tears and 
his blood ; go ask the ocean, that has wit 
nessed his death-struggle whilst speeding 
on an errand of mercy ! Go to the dreary 
shores of the icy north, go to the burning 
sands of the distant south, and the bleached 
and scattered bones of the Catholic priest 


will tell you how earnestly he has labored 
for the welfare of his fellow-men. 

Ah, beloved brethren in Christ, could 
the many happy souls that have died in 
the arms, died with the blessing of the 
priest, could they appear before you at 
this moment, ah ! they would describe to 
you, in glowing language, the great ben 
efits they have derived from the Catholic 
priest. They would say to you : K We 
were weak and helpless, but the consoling 
words of the priest gave us strength. We 
trembled at the thought of God s judg 
ments ; but the blessing and absolution 
of the priest gave us a supernatural cour 
age. We were tormented by the assaults 
of the devil ; but the power of the priest 
put the evil one to flight. We were heart 
broken at the thought of bidding a long 
farewell to wife and children, to the near 
est and dearest ; but the priest turned our 


weeping eyes towards a happier home, 
where there is no parting, no weeping, no 
mourning, any more ! And even when 
our soul had left the body, when our 
friends were shedding fruitless tears over 
the cold corpse, even then the priest of 
God still followed us with his prayers ; he 
commended us to the mercy of God ; he 
called upon the angels and saints to come 
to our aid to present us before the throne 
of God. Ah ! now we understand, indeed, 
that whosesoever sins the priest forgives on 
earth, they are truly forgiven them in 

The priest has enemies. He knows it, 
but he does not complain. The world, 
too, hated and persecuted his Divine Mas 
ter. But the priest opens his lips only to 
pray for them ; he raises his hand only to 
bless them. He remembers the words of 
Jesus : "I say to you, love your enemies, 


do good to those that hate you, bless those 
that curse you, and pray for those that 
persecute and calumniate you " ; and, like 
his Divine Master, the priest says : "Father, 
forgive them." 

During the French Ke volution, a wicked 
monster, who had often dyed his hands in 
the blood of priests, fell dangerously ill. 
He had sworn that no priest should ever set 
his foot in his house, and that, if any dared 
to enter, he should never leave it alive. 
A priest heard of his illness ; he heard, 
too, of the impious vow he had made. But 
he heeded it not. The good shepherd 
must be ready to lay down his life for his 
sheep. As soon as this wicked monster 
saw the priest standing before him, he flew 
into a rage : " What ! " cried he, "a priest 
in my house ! Bring me my pistols." Then 
the dying ruffian raised his brawny arm, 
and shook it threateningly at the priest. 


" See ! " he cried, with a horrible oath, w this 
arm has murdered twelve of such as you." 

" Not so, my good friend," answered the 
priest, calmly, "you have murdered only 
eleven. The twelfth now stands before 
you." Then baring his breast, he said : 
"See here, on my breast, the marks of 
your fury ! See here the scars that your 
hand has made ! God has preserved my 
life, that I might save your soul." With 
these words the priest threw his arms 
around the neck of the dying murderer, 
and, with tears in his eyes, conjured him, 
by the precious Blood of Jesus Christ, to 
have pity on his poor soul, and make his 
peace with God. 

Such, my beloved brethren, such is the 
Catholic priest. I tell the truth when I 
say that he is indeed an angel of God, 
with the heart of a man. 



BEFORE concluding this little work, I 
must speak of another point of great im 
portance. Holy Scripture tells us, that, 
when the holy man Tobias considered 
the great benefits which God had bestowed 
upon his family through the angel Ra 
phael, he was seized with fear ; he was at 
a loss how to express his gratitude ; he and 
his family fell prostrate upon their faces 
for three hours, thanking and blessing the 
Lord. He called his son Tobias, and 
said to him : " What can we give to this 
holy man that is come with thee ? " And 
the young Tobias said to his father : 


< f Father, what wages shall we give him, 
or what can be worthy of his benefits ? 
He conducted me, and brought me safe 
again ; he received the money of Gabelus, 
he caused me to have my wife, and he 
chased from her the evil spirit ; he gave 
joy to her parents, myself he delivered 
from being devoured by the fish, thee also 
he hath made to see the light of heaven, 
and we are filled with all good things 
through him. What can we give him 
sufficient for these things ? But I beseech 
thee, my father, to desire him that he 
would vouchsafe to accept of half of all 
the things that have been brought." 
(Tobias, chap. xii. ) It is thus, my beloved 
brethren, that this holy family showed 
themselves thankful to God and His holy 
angel for the divine blessings. 

Now you have heard that the priest is, 
for you, the true angel of God ; you have 


heard that his dignity is far more sublime 
than that of the angel Raphael ; you have 
heard that the priest s powers far surpass 
those of all the angels of heaven ; you 
have heard that his offices are of greater 
importance to you than those of the an 
gels ; you have heard that the benefits 
which God bestows upon you through the 
hands of the priest, far surpass those 
which He bestows through His holy an 
gels ; you have heard that the Catholic 
priest lives not for himself, but exclu 
sively for you ; that he is invested with 
the most extraordinary powers, not for 
his benefit, but for yours ; in a word, you 
have heard that God has given you, in the 
priest, all the goods and blessings of 
heaven and earth. What fitting thanks 
can you, then, offer to him? Ah ! if the 
Lord had only once shown you but one 
single mark of affection, even then you 


would be under infinite obligations to 
Him, and He would deserve an infinite 
thanksgiving from you, inasmuch as that af 
fection is the gift and favor of an Infinite 
God. But since you daily receive, 
through the priest, blessings of God, in 
finite in number and greatness, what 
should then be your thanksgivings to God 
and His angel the priest? With To 
bias you should say : " What shall we give 
to this holy man? What can be worthy 
of his benefits ? " Were you, in imitation 
of Tobias ? to offer to God and His priest 
one-half of all your goods, it would be a 
poor return for the Divine blessings. 
Believe me, you will never be able, in this 
world, fully to understand what God has 
given to you in the priest, and what you 
should be to the priest ; you will understand 
it only in the world to come. But let me 
beseech you to believe, at least, what you 


cannot understand. And if you live up 
to this belief, you will listen to our Lord 
when He speaks of the priest, and says : 
"He that receiveth you, receiveth Me, and 
he that receiveth Me, receiveth Him that 
sent Me." (Matt. x. 41.) Our Divine 
Saviour spoke these words to His Apostles 
and to all priests in general, to encourage 
them in establishing on earth His king- 

o o 

dom the Catholic Church. You know 
very well, that in order to establish and keep 
established the holy Church, the priests 
have to announce the Gospel truths ; they 
have to administer the Sacraments. But 
this is not enough : they have also to build 
churches, or keep the old ones, and every 
thing that belongs to them, in good con 
dition and repair ; they have to erect and 
to support Catholic schools, hospitals, and 
orphan asylums. They are the ministers 
of God, and as such, they are charged 


with the honor of His worship, and the 
care of His sacred temples. Thdy are, 
moreover, the almoners of the poor, and the 
fathers of the needy. How, think you, 
can poor priests meet all the expenses that 
they must necessarily incur in the exer 
cise of the sacred ministry? Only put 
yourselves a day or two in the place of your 
priests : take care of all the poor of the 
place ; assist all the needy that come to 
your door, or that modestly hide their 
poverty from every one but the priest of 
God. Try to support Catholic schools, 
colleges, hospitals, orphan asylums. 
Build new churches, or keep old ones in 
good condition. Do all this, and more, 
and you will find out what the difficulties 
and crosses, the troubles and hardships of 
the priests are in this country. You will 
find out that it requires heroic virtue, an 
gelic patience, and superhuman courage 


in the priests, to comply with their duties 
towards God and men. 

Jesus Christ knew full well all the diffi 
culties which His poor priests had to en 
counter. But H encourages them. He 
says to them, "He that receiveth you, re- 
ceiveth Me ; and he that receiveth Me, 
receiveth Him that sent Me. He that 
receiveth a prophet " a priest " shall 
receive the reward of a prophet " of a 
priest. Jesus Christ made the salvation 
of the people dependent on the priest, 
and He made also the priest dependent 
on the people for his support and other 
expenses which he has to incur in the ex 
ercise of the sacred ministry. It is by 
this mutual dependence that our divine 
Saviour MepA the priests united with the 
people. The dWil the cursed spirit of 
discord -V- has often tried to break up this 
sacred i\nipn between Catholic nations and 


their clergy. He has succeeded in many 
countries by means of Protestant gov 
ernments, but he never could succeed 
in one country in the country of the 
glorious St. Patrick, in Ireland. There 
the perfidious government of England 
offered, not long ago, to support the 
Catholic clergy. Had this offer been ac 
cepted, the Catholic priests of Ireland 
would have become dependent on the 
English government, and that close union 
and warm love, that deep-rooted respect 
and esteem, which, for so many centuries, 
has existed between the Irish Catholics 
and their priests, would soon have fallen 
a prey to the devilish trick of a perfidious 
government. But thanks be t/> God, and 
to the foresight and wisdom lof \the Irish 
clergy, the devil and his Colleague *- the 
English government met, in ,tjhis in- 


stance, as in many others, with a cold re 
ception with a flat refusal. 

Jesus Christ has given to His priests 
ever so many reasons to keep up mutual 
love between themselves and the people. 
Priests, no doubt, will do all in their 
power to establish and to preserve this 
love. But Jesus Christ wishes also 
that the people should preserve this mu 
tual love between themselves and the 
clergy. To obtain this object, they are 
commanded to support and assist the 
clergy ; but in order to make them ob 
serve this commandment joyfully, Jesus 
Christ holds out to the people a most 
powerful inducement. He says to every 
Catholic : "If you receive my priest, you 
receive Me ; and by receiving Me, you re 
ceive my Heavenly Father . " In other word s , 
Jesus Christ says that, by supporting and 
assisting the priests, you support and assist 


your Divine Saviour Himself, Who looks 
upon all the difficulties of His priests as His 
own, because they are His representatives 
on earth. 

Moreover, in order to make Catholics 
cling to their priests, and keep them 
closely united with them, Jesus Christ 
promises them an immense reward. He 
says : " He that receiveth a prophet " a 
priest "shall receive the reward of a 
prophet." Our Divine Saviour has at 
tached great blessings to the charity 
which is shown to the least of His breth 
ren on earth. "Amen I say to you, as 
long as you did it to one of these, my 
least brethren, you did it to Me." (Matt. 
xxv. 40.) By saying "to the least of 
these, My brethren," Jesus Christ gives 
us to understand that there is another 
class of His brethren who are great in 
His sight, and whom He loves most ten- 


derly. Now, if God bestows such great 
blessings upon those who are charitable 
to the least of the brethren of Jesus 
Christ, how much more abundantly will 
He not bestow His blessings upon those 
who are charitable to His great friends ? 
The Holy Ghost calls our particular at 
tention to this great truth when He says 
in Holy Scripture: "If thou do good, 
know to whom thou doest it, and there 
shall be much thanks for thy good deeds. 
Do good to the just, and thou shalt find 
great recompense, and if not of him, as 
suredly of the Lord." (Eccles. xii. 1, 
2.) To the just, especially to those of 
them who are eminently so, may be ap 
plied what the Angel of the Lord said 
of John the Baptist, namely, that "he 
was great before God." (Luke i. 15.) 
The reason of this is, because Jesus Christ 
lives in the just by His grace. "I live, 


now not I," says St. Paul, " but Christ 
liveth in me." (Galat. ii. 20.) Hence, 
whatever is given to a just man is given 
to Christ Himself in a more special man 
ner. To show this in reality, Christ has 
often appeared in the form and clothing 
of a poor man, and as such begged and 
received alms. This happened to John 
the Deacon, as is related in his life by 
St. Gregory. The same saint relates 
also (Horn. 39, in Evang.), that Jesus 
Christ, in the form of a leper, appeared 
to a certain charitable monk, named 
Martyrius, who carried Him on his shoul 
ders. The same happened to St. Christo 
pher, also to St. Martin, Bishop of Tours. 
When he was still a soldier, and receiving 
instruction for admission into the Cath 
olic Church, he gave one-half of his man 
tle to a poor man ; the following night 
Jesus Christ appeared to him, wearing 


this mantle, and said to the angels who 
surrounded Him: "Behold, this is Mar 
tin, who gave Me this mantle ! " 

Once St. Catherine of Sienna gave to 
a poor beggar the silver cross she wore, 
having nothing else about her to give. 
During the night Christ appeared to her, 
and said that, on the Day of Judgment, 
He would show that cross to the whole 
world in proof of her charity. God, 
then, rewards liberally those who are 
charitable to the least of His brethren ; 
but He rewards far more liberally all 
those who are charitable to His friends 
to the just. "He that receiveth a just 
man," says Jesus Christ, "in the name of 
a just man (that is, because he is a just 
man, a friend of God), shall receive the 
reward of a just man." 

But what will be the reward of all those 
who liberally and joyfully support and aid 


the priests the ministers and true rep 
resentatives of God through whose min 
istry men are made just and holy? To 
understand this I must make here a very 
important remark, to which I call your 
special attention : namely, that there are 
degrees in this well-doing. The more 
just a man is, both for himself and 
others, the more souls he leads to justice, 
to holiness of life, the greater will be his 
reward, and consequently the greater also 
will be the reward of him who assists such 
a just man. "They that instruct many 
to justice, shall shine as stars for all 
eternity." (Dan. xii. 3.) To whom 
can these words of Holy Scripture be ap 
plied more truly than to fervent pastors 
of souls and missionary priests? They 
devote their whole life to the salvation 
of souls. Now there is nothing more 
pleasing in the sight of God than labor- 


ing for the salvation of souls. "We can 
not ofier any sacrifice to God," says St. 
Gregory, "which is equal to that of the 
zeal for the salvation of souls." "This 
zeal and labor for the salvation of men," 
says St. John Chrysostom, "is of so great 
a merit before God, that to give up all our 
goods to the poor, or to spend our whole 
life in the exercise of all sorts of auster 
ities, cannot equal the merit of this labor. 
This merit of laboring in the vineyard of 
the Lord is something far greater than 
the working of miracles. To be employed 
in this blessed labor is even more pleas 
ing to the Divine Majesty than to suffer 
martyrdom." If, then, in the opinion of 
the Fathers of the Church and all the 
saints, there can be no greater honor and 
no greater merit than that of working for 
the salvation of souls, we must also say 
that there can be no work of corporal 


mercy more honorable and more meritori 
ous than that of giving charitable aid to 
the pastors of souls, to missionary priests, 
and to persons consecrated to God. To 
such as give this aid may be applied the 
words of the prophet: "They shall shine 
as stars for all eternity." " The charity 
which you bestow," says Aristotle (Lib. I. 
Ethic, c. 3), "will be so much the more 
divine, the more it tends to the common 
welfare." But what kind of charity is 
tending more to the common welfare than 
that which is bestowed upon such apostolic 
laborers as spend their life exclusively in 
laboring for the salvation of souls ? Now 
this charity is divine in a most eminent 
degree, and consequently it makes all 
those divine who bestow it. They shall, 
without doubt, shine as the stars, nay, 
even as the sun, throughout all eternity. 
" Then the just shall shine as the sun in 


the kingdom of their Father " (Matt. xiii. 
43) ; and this glory and happiness of 
theirs in heaven will be in proportion to 
the zeal and fervor with which they have 
continued to furnish charitable aid to 
Jesus Christ, in the persons of the minis 
ters of the holy Catholic Church. "He 
that receiveth a prophet, shall have the re 
ward of a prophet." He who receives a 
prophet, says our Lord, that is, he who 
gives charitable aid to a priest, will re 
ceive the reward of a priest. The reason 
of this is, because by his charitable aid he 
contributes towards the spreading of the 
Gospel, and, therefore, as he thus shares in 
the labor and in the merits of the Gospel, 
he must also share in the reward promised 
to the true minister of God. Should 
you aid a man in performing sinful actions, 
you would become accessory to his sins. 
So, in like manner, by assisting the priests 


with a cheerful heart. When God, in His 
bounty, vouchsafes to call you to co 
operate in any of His works, he does not 
employ soldiers, or tax-gatherers, or con 
stables to collect the impost He accepts 
from you only a voluntary assistance. 
The Master of the Universe repudiates 
constraint, for He is the God of free 
souls ; he does not consent to receive any 
thing which is not spontaneous, and of 
fered with a cheerful heart. 

To conclude : The Catholic priest is the 
priest of the Lord of heaven and earth ; 
impossible for you to conceive a higher 
dignity ! 

The Catholic priest is the plenipo 
tentiary of God; impossible for you to 
conceive a greater power ! 

The Catholic priest is the minister of 
God ; impossible for you to conceive an 
office more sublime and more important ! 


The Catholic priest is the representative 
of God ; impossible for you to conceive a 
higher commission ! 

The Catholic priest is the vicegerent 
of God ; impossible for you to conceive a 
higher merit ! 

The Catholic priest is the treasurer of 
God ; impossible for you to conceive a 
greater benefactor of mankind, a man 
worthier of your love and veneration, 
of your charity and liberality ! 

May you, therefore, my beloved breth 
ren, always receive the priest as the Gala- 
tians received St. Paul the Apostle. " You 
despised me not," writes this great Apos 
tle to the Galatians, " you did not reject me, 
but you received me as an angel of God, 
even as Christ Jesus. I bear you witness 
that, if it could be done, you would have 
plucked out your own eyes, and would 
have given them to me.* (Chap. iv. 14, 15.) 



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